You've never once let me down and you've always been there for me, no matter what.
We haven't seen a lot of each other over the last 10 years or so and that's something I want to change. Yes, I'm busy with the children but that's a crap excuse and I should make time for you.
You have been a fantastic role model for me (apart from your smoking!) and I've never had cause for complaint. You've never been one of those embarrassing Dads, despite the teasing and singing of the Cornetto theme I used to get when you dropped us off at school in the ice-cream van. The treats on tap made up for that!
At the age of 62 you work harder than many men half your age. Very few would undertake the heavy, physical work that you do.
I may not have realised it at the time but I understand now just how hard you worked to ensure that me & my sister never missed out. We had all we needed...and more, because you worked around the clock.
Despite working all those hours you still had time for us. Not once did we hear "Not now, Daddy's busy". You had time to make things for us, you had time to play with us, you even had the time to teach me to serve the perfect ice cream! I can't recall even one time when you weren't around when we needed you or wanted to be with you.
You spend your spare time nowadays helping the elderly residents in your road. Gardening for them, tending to their greenhouses, doing odd jobs, making the area look pleasant for all who live there and even walking dogs! You're a man that will turn his hand to anything and I miss that.
I aspire to be you, helping others tirelessly and selflessly. Whenever I talk to you about it you always seem so happy to helping others. During my childhood I recall you volunteering for various causes and helping with fundraising for those in need. I have fond memories of helping out on the Playbus at the Suffolk Show and with Helping Hands, the CB Radio community charity group. I get my charitable side from you and now I'm proud to say that my children are following in our footsteps.
What we never considered or appreciated was that you had to give up your job and your freedom for us. Overnight you went from breadwinner of the household to stay at home Dad to two hormonal teenagers full of angst, anger and turmoil.
This was back in the day when single parent families were almost scorned upon and as for stay at home Dads, well, they were practically unheard of, (especially in our village of small-minded gossips!) but we knew that life would continue to be horrible for us if Mum stayed. Our childhood was being wasted away, shut away in our bedrooms, and we obviously didn't want that any more.
I don't know how you did it but you did a superb job. You managed to raise us successfully and we didn't go off the rails (well, not much anyway!)
After my anger at Mum subsided a little I started to build a relationship with her again. I sneaked around because I didn't want to disappoint you. I'd only ever seen you cry once in my lifetime and that was because of her. I can still vividly remember how you found out that I'd been seeing Mum.
I was in Germany on a school trip. (Heaven knows what you'd sacrificed for me to go on that trip, but I'll always be grateful.) I phoned you as soon as we arrived at the Youth Hostel to let you know that we'd arrived safely. I can picture the phone box and YH so clearly. I knew that you'd been to court that day to get the divorce finalised but I didn't realise that Mum would vindictively and spitefully announce that I'd lied to you about being at a friends one night when I'd been to see her.
My heart was in my mouth, expecting a bollocking over the phone but I'll never forget what you actually said to me. You accepted it gracefully and calmly and said "A girl needs her mother" You were right. I will NEVER EVER forgive her for what she did to us and put us all through but to some extent I still needed her in my life.
Over time me & my sister left home and you made a life on your own and were able to work again. You then met R. For a while you seemed so happy to be with her and to have found someone else to spend your life with. I just couldn't take to her though. She was trying to make you into something you weren't and it hurt to see her taking advantage of you. I hate to say it but I was glad she went, eventually. I know that you got over it quickly but that still doesn't take away the pain and sadness. You were soon back to yourself though and it was such a relief to me & my sister.
Today and everyday I love you and I appreciate everything you've done for me. I couldn't wish for a better Dad and I'm immensely proud to be your daughter.
Love Heidi xx