Today started rather well. I got up just before 5:30 am and drank the cup of coffee my daughter made for me, then into the van, Ziggy on board for company and for our viewing pleasure a huge, nearly full moon setting in the south-west. Hannah was dropped off at work about a quarter to six and we spotted Daniel the Tesco cat approaching the staff entrance for his breakfast. Then Ziggy and I headed for Antrim to search for the exact pair of pale pink slipper boots that Miss Martha wants for her birthday. Approaching Asda, Ziggy alerted me to the Asda cat (name unknown) heading for the staff entrance for his morning meal. In the door at 6:00 am and slippers and croissants purchased by ten past. By 6:30 am we were outside my daughter's house posting Evie's forgotten homework book through the door. Met the next door neighbour, Hannah's colleague departing his house and wished him good morning. Like my conscientious daughter he too is expected to be on duty at six but apparently this does not trouble him.
Off home for more coffee, croissants and apricot jam. Hens out. The other bantie is sitting on eggs but I'll deal with that tomorrow. Bert is still in bed and will remain there for a further two hours.
It was my father's birthday today, his exactly a week after my own. I found myself thinking about him throughout the day, trying to remember specific things, early memories. I remember the feel of his large hand enclosing my tiny one as he walked me down the kesh beside our first home in Cannionstown. Going out in the green AEC lorry, me and my sister, both of us sitting on a thick rug in the middle where the heat of the engine beneath warmed our legs and bums. No call for seatbelts back in those days. There are other memories that aren't mine, ones my mother told me. She said he carried me down the stairs on the 9th of March wishing me a happy half-birthday and she said that I'd stand in my wooden cot rattling the sides with excitement when I heard his lorry arrive in the yard.
I don't know if my younger siblings would agree with but sometimes I think that we older ones knew the best of him when he was in his thirties and had less to worry about. For there were four more children in his forties, he bought the farm, worked two jobs and sometimes times were hard for both my mother and father. And as if that wasn't tough enough they found themselves the parents of teenagers. Oh dear. Daddy just didn't get teenagers. But that is quite another story. Today on the 97th anniversary of my father's birth I'll only be thinking about those early years.