I was perched on the toilet with my head in my hands, tears streaming down my face. My body rocked gently as I tried to contain and quieten my sobs.
Today is the twelfth anniversary of my father’s death.
It’s hard to think about that awful day, when, at the tender age of just twenty I received the tragic news that my Dad had been hit by a car and killed. I can still remember the way I felt as the words filtered into my mind. I had dropped to the floor as if my life force had drained suddenly from me. I had no control of the cries of grief that left my body. They came from deep within me. It was a deep physical pain that seemed to grip both my body and mind with equal terrible force, the likes of which I had never experienced.
Over the years his absence has become easier to bare. I still think about him every day. I miss having him in my life, and I often talk to my children about the grandfather they never had the chance to meet.
I am not sure where Bubble managed to dig it from, but her timing (or perhaps her intuition) was impeccable when she appeared at the toilet door clutching Honky – my favourite childhood toy under her chubby little arm. Hurriedly drying my cheeks, and smiling through the tears I tried a cheery “Hello baby.”
“Ta.” Bubble held out the stuffed gorilla to me, and without another word, trotted off.
I held Honky tight to my chest and breathed in its familiar smell. My Dad had given Honky to me when I was four, and he had always been a favourite of mine. Strangely ,in my mind this inanimate soft toy is somehow intrinsically linked to my father.
Still perched on the toilet, eyes closed, I smiled as I took a wander through my memories with Honky.
Sundays…rolling pastry at the kitchen table with my Dad with the smell of freshly baked bread roll wafting from the oven.
Curling up on the couch next to my Dad running my little fingers through his curly hair on his stomach, and tracing the letters of my name inked onto his chest.
I can hear his laughter.
I can smell the tobacco on his skin and in his hair, and the beer on his breath.
I can hear the click of his boots on the pavement as we walked to our local shop, for a newspaper and a packet of lollies, his big strong hand encasing mine.
I can feel the heat of the sun on my skin at the beach, the feel of the sand between my toes and the cold splash of the waves lapping around my ankles.
I can hear The Eagles song ‘Hotel California’ coming from the jukebox and the clicking of pool balls banging together.
The images flooded back thick and fast, one melting seamlessly into the next, one by one unlocking another door in the precious vault of my memory.
And it was here, perched between the rekindled grief of my present and the comforting memory of the past, magical in all its normality, that I resolved not to spend the day feeling sorry for myself and the loved one I have lost.
I am certain that it is not what he would have wanted.
Instead I will spend the day creating memories with my children. They may seem very ordinary now –eating breakfast together, running in the park, walking along the beach and throwing stones into the water – but after all, these may be the very things that my children think about in years to come when they hold their childhood cuddlies to their heart and think of me.
Do you still have your favourite childhood toy? Does it transport you back to a different time in your memory when you look at or hold it?