This week's post is on the theme of Emotions but is a combination of Tara's Gallery and Josie's Writing Workshop on Sleep is for the Weak. Visit them both if you can. There are lots of great blogs just waiting to be discovered!
This is going to be difficult as the picture I've chosen evokes a lot of emotions in me. It's of me and my dear departed Dad. Sorry about the quality of the picture; I've had to scan it in as it was taken before digital cameras really came along.
This is the last picture I have of you, Dad. I keep it in my bedroom in a frame. Mum hates it - she prefers to remember you as you were before you became ill. I have plenty of those pictures. A whole lifetime's worth. This one is precious, to me anyway.
When I look at this picture, I feel a strong mixture of emotions. Sometimes, they overwhelm me. They are doing right now, in fact. There are tears in my eyes as I type these words.
I feel happiness because in this picture, we are not only just both smiling, we are laughing. We're probably not laughing at the same thing but it is a shared moment, on Christmas Day. For all the happy times you gave us, for the times where you had us helpless with laughter at one of your "misguided tours" around Devon or Somerset.
I feel sadness because we won't get to share such moments again. You left us close to Christmas in 2000, and this picture being taken at Christmas serves to remind me of that. It's bittersweet. That the last few months and years of your life, you didn't really understand what was happening to you, and in the month and years before that, you did know and were probably very scared but never showed it.
I feel pride that you were my Dad, that you became a Dad in all but name to my two half-sisters and brought us all up the same, that you gave them a life they wouldn't have had otherwise and that they chose you to give them away at their respective weddings, not their biological father. Of the many, many hours that you put in at work to earn a living enough to pay all the bills with 4 daughters to support. I also feel humbled that you took on so much, so young, and that you came through it - and a lot more - with Mum.
I feel gratitude that, because of all the support you gave me in early life, I was able to do all the things I have achieved thus far. You never stopped me doing anything, you never pushed me into things I didn't want to do. I made my own way, and you let me make my own mistakes. That, in itself, was a fantastic education, in life itself.
I feel devastation that you never got to meet my children, your only actual grandchildren. You were a great granddad to my sisters' children; you would have been just as fabulous a granddad to mine and they would have adored you - and make no mistake about it, Missy Woo would have you wrapped around her little finger. She is Carolyn all over again - even their birthdays are a day apart, just 5 days before your own. A little while ago, they started asking questions about you and I wanted to cry.
I feel anger that you have left us here, but when I think about it, it's not anger with you but with myself, for not making the most of our time together. I know you wouldn't begrudge me one minute of time away from you though and that, if you could have understood, you would have supported my move to Lancashire in the last 18 months of your life.
I feel pain. It will be ten years this Christmas, Dad, and it doesn't get any easier sometimes. The pain never goes completely. You just learn to control it so that you feel its full force less often. Today, Dad, I'm feeling it as sharply as the day you died. I still remember stopping at Stafford services and ringing Mum and her telling me that you'd gone, just an hour and a half after I left you having said goodbye for the last time. I remember it like it was yesterday. That you are now free of the physical body that failed you, that your "spirit, flying high, is soaring free" as we had written in the book of remembrance, gives me some comfort.
When all's said and done, I will always miss you, but your influence on me will never leave.
Brian Thomas Giles. 10th July 1935-17th December 2000. RIP.