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It is a long time since my daddy died – nearly twenty years. There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think of him. After my mother died, he was my all in all. He was the image of the strong, silent man. Although he sometimes said he adored me, he never let me get spoiled. He didn’t believe in God, but he promised my mother that I would go to church, so to church I went. Sometimes with an aunt, and sometimes he would take me, watch me go in with a friend, and pick me up afterwards. It was only later I discovered he used to sit in the Church car park reading the Sunday paper whilst waiting for me. Effectively he gave up his Sunday morning so his daughter could go do something he did not believe in, because he had made a promise to a dying woman; he was that sort of man.

When I was little, he still had the farm in Wales and that was his version of Heaven. He loved the open air, the Welsh hills, and his sheep; during the lambing season you wouldn’t see him except briefly; he spent the nights out in a converted railway carriage. He sometimes brought me lambs home to bottle feed, and I’d feed them next to the Aga where he used to put them to keep warm. It was fine for me to make a fuss of them, but I sort of knew that in his own quiet way, he was glad I did. He couldn’t have found the words, but was happy his little girl had them. He loved poetry and used to read Dylan Thomas to me; I still have his copy of the collected poems on my bookshelves. When he gave up the farm, I think something inside of him died; but little girls can’t run farms and need caring for; so he sold up.

The greatest sadness is the thought that because my daddy did not believe in God, I will never see him again; my inclination to universalism comes from that source. God’s love and mercy are beyond our understanding. My daddy had his reasons for not being able to believe, and God alone is his judge. All I know is he was the best daddy a girl could ever have had. He was a great example.Β ‘There’s no excuse for doing less than your best, Jess’, he would say, and when I’d protest, he’d say, ‘no excuse that works Jess, no excuse that works.’ Not a day goes by I don’t miss him. He fought the fight well, and I hope never to disgrace him. So, on this special day – thank you, and I love and miss you more than words can ever say.