If Dad Was Here

My Grandparents told a beautiful story of how they got together. It’s a story which begins with him talking of unrequited love, and of how he watched her from a distance for what felt like forever. My Grandfather literally followed my Grandmother home, more than once, just to make sure she got there safely. He would whistle to himself while he walked at a safe distance. Each time my Grandmother stopped to turn around, he’d stop whistling and smile.

“I knew he was smitten” my Grandmother jumped in. Let’s just say my Grandmother never suffered from low self esteem.

“I didn’t think she’d be keen on me” he said with a grin.

Eventually my Grandmother put him out of his misery and asked him to join her on the walk home.

They walked together for the next fifty years.

Just like the movies. Except it wasn’t. Instead of a delightful romantic comedy, my memories of them were more reality TV description.

They lived next door to us so my sister and I got the daily reels, rather than the screened highlights. We saw the squabbling and the petty arguments that can come after years of cohabitation. Yes, the love never died but there were times you needed to duck for cover when an argument became a little heated. My Grandmother never backed down from a fight, and my Grandfather never did anything he didn’t want to. It was a lethal combination, but even with the static it appeared to work, they were madly in love.

When my Grandfather died, in her devastation my Grandmother erased all memory of any arguments from her mind. Stories were told with a whiff of flowers, white linen and butterflies in the spring, while a happy broadway tune played in the background. Sentences were littered with pleasantness. It was all under the one blanket of a heavily scented rose coloured fragrance. My Grandfather gained legendary status in her mind, he was seven feet tall and bulletproof, perhaps the greatest man to walk the planet. He could do no wrong. Their relationship was one of constant harmony. We all agreed. It was just easier that way.

I’ve learnt to do the same with the children when G travels. The children automatically elevate him to a level I can merely gaze up to from the trenches of solo parenting.

“You know when Dad walks the beagle he takes her a lot farther than this, Dad can walk a long way.”

“Dad just says two more scoops of cauliflower, not the WHOLE plate. Dad wouldn’t make me eat ALL of this.”

“Dad is really good Math. Are you sure you can help with this? Oh dear, this could take AGES.”

“Dinner isn’t as much fun without Dad, is it?”

“Remember the time when Dad….”

It has only been 24 hours.

This week while G is away I will hear “Dad said I could”, “Dad lets me do it” and my personal favourite “If Dad was here, he’d know what to do.”

This morning when the beagle and I hit the vacant wasteland that extends beyond the compound walls there was some confusion over where to go. The beagle and I headed off in different directions. Luckily we had the second little traveller with us to tell us how Dad does it. Because of course, Dad does it best. Who knew you could excel in dog walking skills?

When a photo landed in my inbox this morning of G eating what I imagine will be his first of many Texas ribs, the children clambered over my lap to get a better view. “Where is he?” “Who took the photo?” “What flavour ribs are they?” “What’s he sitting on?” “What else is on the table?”

They were like starved fans, sitting on top of the celebrity tour bus, cranking their necks to get a better look. They wanted more. They were hungry for details.

And in that split second, as I watched their faces light up at the mere sight of their father, I realized that that’s exactly how it’s meant to be. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, blind adoration sticks around forever.

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