I never saw any photos of my dad as a boy, or even a teenager, and neither did my mum. I don’t even know if any ever existed, but it seems fitting somehow, because he joined the army at 14, went prematurely grey at 18 and was married to his first wife with a baby on the way by the time he was 19, so he must have grown up pretty quickly. But sometimes I’ll look at my son and he reminds me so much of the grandfather he’s never known it makes me catch my breath.
Dad was the one who taught me how to ride a bike, how to draw and paint; he was always there to pick me up from school discos and he was there whenever my sister and I needed anything. I wish he’d been around to meet his grandchildren, because he would have been a brilliant granddad. I miss hearing his voice and his laugh and I miss his hugs and the smell of Brut and Old Spice.
23 years since we lost him and it still feels like yesterday.
*This is my entry to the Gallery and the theme this week is ‘dads’.
*UPDATE: After I wrote a feature for The Guardian about my search for my brother and sister someone came forward to give me a photo of my dad as a boy soldier. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to have seen a photo of my daddy as a teenager at last.