I’m worried that as time goes by your dad, and what he really was like will become distorted and he will become a new imaginary person of my making so I must get this all down before time can change it. You have been robbed of everything else, you must at least get the correct version of this most beautiful man.
Firstly and foremost he was handsome; beautiful in fact. Sometimes I would say “I’m embarrassed to be seen with you, you’re ridiculous”. He turned heads in bars and restaurants and it made me smile as he was oblivious to it all. He wouldn’t have cared anyway, he had everything that mattered in us. He loved us in the most boundless way and we were all he had every hoped for. He spent every free second with us and all of his money buying us presents and taking us on “treats”. I dare say he would have been a rich man had he not met me.
No one was more deserving of this life than him. He just ate it all up. He was hungry for life and all it had to give. He liked things, lots of things, more than most and he sure did like a chat. I would be constantly chastising him for not leaving anywhere quickly enough because he had to say goodbye to everyone he’d spoken to. In restaurants he’d always like to say goodbye to anyone who’d waited on him, sometimes even the chef.
He smiled a lot, more than most people I’d say, more than me. Celeste has inherited this and I’m so glad. I never noticed it that much until he died and then suddenly I noticed that people don’t really smile as much as your daddy did. He loved films and cooking and rivers and people. He drank cream from the carton and liked ska music. He was easily pleased and never put demands on anyone. He loved watching cricket and Rugby, golf, even darts.
His most favourite thing was to come back from work and when he got upstairs to your bedrooms he’d go on all fours and start to growl while waving his head. You and Lesty would scream from the top of your lungs and hide in the nearest spot. Then he would say-“I’m so hungry, I want a Flynn stew and a Lesty pancake”. More screams. Sometimes this would go further, particularly if Ronan was with us and Ronan would say ”Let’s tie your dad up.” You would sprint downstairs and get bathrobe belts and ties and tie him to a chair and he would pretend to be a caged animal.
Most mornings I would come down to find him sandwiched between you and Celeste under a blanked on the sofa because you had woken up early and he wanted to let me sleep. He would put on a film for you but you would be asleep within minutes and he would have changed the channel to something totally violent and inappropriate. I would walk in and he’d give me a smile and say “Tea?’
He loved having friends over or ‘Ceiling” as he liked to call it. He grew tomatoes and strawberries in our tiny garden and cooked a meal for me every day for ten years. He loved India and his favourite book was- The Business. He loved taking us on holiday and eating nice food. He loved his friends and his parents and his childhood. He loved sailing and fishing but was useless on a horse. Loved Irish Trad music and the GAA games Fergal took him to. He lapped it all up and wanted more. A few weeks before he died, we went to Eunan’s wedding where there was some traditional Irish dancing and he said to me- “we need to go somewhere right now where they play this music and listen to it all night long”. I made a plan in my head that I would find somewhere in London and surprise him with this but I never did.
He loved hearing and telling stories and took his time with both. He was easy to make laugh. He had the most beautiful brown skin and had a year round tan. You have inherited this. I on the other hand need help. The other day I had a spray tan and I had to keep the colour on overnight. You woke up in my bed the next morning and squealed with delight- “Look Mum, we’re the same colour!” It made me smile.
Your dad was brilliant at drawing,but utterly useless at keeping time. He could never find anything and he hated heights. He was a good swimmer and loved seeing me in hats. He never knew the words to songs but would sing anyway and make up the lyrics.
He once took three hours out of his day to walk down the Columbia road to get me a stocking filler that he had seen in a magazine that he thought I would like. It was 100 meters of sticky tape with the London skyline on it.
He used to wait up for me when I was out and often tore articles out of magazines that he knew would upset me and give me nightmares. He loved karaoke and knots and hated cinnamon.
He was the kindest man I have ever met and he loved you more than life. Sometimes he would have to bite his own hand when he looked at you otherwise he might take a bite out of you instead. He cooked for you, put sun lotion on you, built endless forts and sandcastles with you and swam with you. He took you to the doctor, read you stories, did homework, and drew pictures for you. He taught you how to ice skate and play ‘Go Fish’.
Your dad loved snow and hammocks and sat watching T.V. eating frozen peas (you do this now and it makes me happy). He wore lovely clothes and liked ‘a good desk’.
If he was bored there is nothing he loved more than hearing me recite/rap the entire fourteen minutes of Kanye West’s ‘Last Call’, complete with actions. I had to pause in the middle for him to add the only line he knew: “Mayonnaise colored Benz, I push Miracle Whip”. I feel this rare and unique talent is gone. I don’t know who would like to see it now, maybe Amanda Morgan.
He had hammer toes and feet as thick as they were long. He loved lemon curd and tradition, he listened to the T.V. way too loudly and had a terrible memory. Fergal used to tease him that his family was on peerage.com and he had beautiful forearms. He was a terrible dancer and when he danced it looked as though he was in a great deal of pain. He loved bikes and cycled one around Chiswick called -The Governer- with you on the back. He was a great mouse killer and was once dumped by a glamorous girlfriend for killing one stone dead by throwing a hammer at it. This made him my hero. His favourite colour was orange and he loved fires. He smelt of tree bark and honey.
In the days when we dated and had dinner parties at our flat, I had a terrible habit of falling asleep at the dinner table if I had too much wine. Often I would get up and go sit on Daddy’s lap and sleep there in front of everyone. Daddy called this- Assuming the position- and it was frowned upon.
One Monday morning I arrived at work to find that Laura Graham had glued a picture of a man who had fallen asleep in his dinner to my locker. They all laughed at this.
All our friends continuously told me off and at the beginning of the night Lexa, or Tara or Weezey but usually Gautom would say- “you are not to sit on Gumby’s lap,” but I did it anyway until your dad said no. Years later after marriage and children daddy said “ Why don’t you sit on my lap anymore when you’re drunk?” It made me laugh.
He liked salty things, like you do and drank fizzy water. He would try anything but was scared of snakes. He made me do impressions for him, sometimes on a nightly basis. Tara makes me do this now, to the same level of glee.
He was not one for routine or chores, instead he preferred to grab the moment, to live and experience. He loved giving more than receiving and his most favourite night was Christmas Eve. It got better every year.
He was always late, not just five minutes, usually a few hours.
Once when he was out of work he started his own company making soups and selling them at the Farmer’s market at Dukes meadows (your current favourite place). He called it Anderson and Son- `Good Honest Soups’. They were the most wonderful tastes I have ever had. Chestnut, Madera and Celeriac was my absolute favourite and a real sellout at Christmas. I was so proud of him. His next plan was to open a pop-up restaurant at our house once he felt well after his treatment. You were to be our waiter. There are some wonderful photos of you and him, both dressed in flat caps, selling your wares” so happy together.
When he died I had to go to his office to collect his things; pinned to his wall was a picture you drew of him and you in a race car, it was next to your Head-teacher’s award. It took everything in my power not to fall apart there and then with all of his colleagues within ear and eyeshot.
After his funeral service one of his old work colleagues turned to the other and said- “Just makes you want to be a better man” and I was so proud.
He wanted everything for you and would have jumped up and pulled the moon down for you had you so desired it.
For Angela who has given me everything I have.