As I was writing the previous post, I delved into a folder of photos on my computer which is a horrific assortment of photos from 2009-2011 when I was in the early-teen stage. As such, every photo has been given its own name, usually an obvious description of what you can see in the photo. A large percentage are blurry, a lot are of random objects like hair clips or my window sill. Nevertheless, looking through the assortment left me feeling immensely privileged to have the family that I do.
The photos below are all from Christmas 2010. There’s a familiarity to the set-up that makes me really nostalgic, and sad that, for the first time ever, I won’t be spending 25th December with my family. That toy spider remains on that particular door six years on, the Christmas decorations are, with almost certainty, in the same box right now that they are always in, and I’m sure that my family will all be wearing paper hats from crackers and be eating Christmas pudding again this year (if only to get the foil-wrapped coins Mum puts inside).
The next lot of photos are from a family holiday to Devon (can’t quite work out which one, younger-Rachel named the photos ‘summer holiday’ and never dated them). I recognise the journeying, the setting off really early in the morning to get down to the Sainsbury’s in Taunton to have breakfast, before driving the rest of the way to Paignton. I know the beach in the pictures, Goodrington Sands, all too well. I know the exact spot inside the holiday club’s building that a younger version of my brother is standing in, holding a teddy. I recognise the game of Crazy Frog pictured – it’s a well-established holiday staple. And I love that both kayaking and buying fudge in Brixham are now so-many-years-old holiday activities- I remember the very first time we went.
It was nice to also find the following photos of shed-smashing and realise that in my brain, when I think of our shed, that’s the shed I think of – even though it’s been a while since that shed has actually stood in our garden. It’s lovely to so clearly see the mannerisms and personality of my family being captured in photo-form (a certain hammer-wielding boy being the prime example).
I love the many grainy phone photos I have of my younger brothers, and of all the things that happened during those years. They are all photos that display love: of a brother leaving a heartfelt message on a whiteboard, of a Dad taking care over an evening meal to get an extra smile out of us kids, of a Mum taking a photo the first time her daughter got her hair cut by someone that wasn’t her. So many of the photos seem so ordinary, but they mean a great deal.
I also love this one.
Dad, I love you. I love your smile, and I think this photo is possibly one of my favourites ever, even though I’ve only just come back across it. Happy birthday!!
I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for the love you’ve been showing me over the past 19 years and even before then. Thanks for your patience, for being there through crying and laughter and every emotion in between. Thanks for playing with the wooden train-tracks on the lounge floor all those times. Thanks for all the packed lunches you’ve made (and for whistling the Dr Who soundtrack and the Muppets as you went about it), for the washing up and the clearing up and the lifts to different places. Thanks for all the fond memories of the jam game, limpets, and the reading of bedtime stories. The sound of your voice brings me such comfort. I remember stopping what I was doing and listening through my bedroom wall when you came upstairs to read a bedtime story to the boys, because I was too old for a story myself but I wanted to be taken back to those times when it was me sat next to you. Thanks for all the things you have taught me, even when I didn’t want to be there to learn them. Thanks for the memories I have of running down the stairs to greet you when you got home from work. Thank you for the birthdays, Christmases, and holidays that you helped make happen. Thanks for this email you sent me yesterday:
Your humour is so gentle and so wonderful – the upvc ending to this email made me smile. (Also, too many of the captions to the photos in our photo albums are ingenious.) Thanks for all the mealtimes we’ve sat opposite each other at the table. One of the privileges of that is getting to see the face you make after you’ve come up with a particularly good one-liner (and know it). That and the times I’ve watched Nathan’s fake laughter set you off for real.
And, on a more serious note, thanks for your example. For the example of your faith, the impact of seeing you take time each morning to read scripture and pray. Thanks for baptising me, for all the prayers I know you’ve prayed over my life. Thanks for the example of your love to Mum, for making choices of sincerity and integrity. Thanks to you Dad, I know what to look for if I ever marry. I hope to marry a man like you.
Thanks for your continued support – that I know you’ll be reading this even though I’m not going to tell you about it. Thanks for the knowledge that I am always welcome to pick up the phone to you. Thanks for all you’ve done, and thanks for your graciousness. I remember, a little while back (although I can’t quite place when), being sat on the kitchen side swinging my legs and asking you if I could use your first name instead of ‘Dad’, now that I’m older. I was feeling mischievous and was curious as to what your response would be, as I knew that the question pushed things. I’m not sure what it was I was expecting, but it wasn’t what actually happened. I felt like I saw your heart break a little, as you so graciously replied that you guessed that you would have to be ok with that. I’m sorry for that moment and I want you to know that I am so thankful that I am one of only four people on the planet who can call you ‘Dad’. There’s no one I’d rather get to call by that name.
Sorry for making you teary just now.
Happy Birthday Dad, I love you.