Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Remembering My Father...

New Years Eve can never be the happiest time for me since my dear father passed over two years ago, today. He had a good innings and at 96 had unfortunately, reached a stage in his long life where he had had enough.

He had wanted to die in his own bed in the little cottage in Torcross, South Devon, he had owned since the mid 1950s. He moved in permanently when he retired many years later. Although in the latter years he had help in the place by Social Services, he got to the stage where we had to put him in to a Nursing Home as he deteriorated mentally and physically.

He was a brilliant man and I grew up wondering if I'd ever be as clever or as bright as he was. He had the answer to any question you asked. Although the family say I am like him in many ways, I never became anywhere near as clever as him... and am now deteriorating with age myself!

Canford Cliffs, Bournemouth...
My earliest memories of him were when we visited my grandmother (his mother), in her home. She had married PC Wren, the author of Beau Geste and many other books. He had raised my father as his own.

He was educated at Harrow, then Oxford. He played cricket for his school and at University and became well known. I have many newspaper clippings that my father had saved of his exploits on the cricket field.

I believe my mother met my father at a cricket match somewhere. Shortly after they married, the war started. My father had joined the Army and eventually became a Major. He saw service on the continent and had some pretty harrowing times, as many others had too. We were lucky that he did survive.

As soon as the war ended, we joined my father in Berlin. I have recollections of bombed buildings and the poverty.

My father left the army and took a job as a House Master in King Alfred's School in Plorn, near Hamburg. My memories are riding horses and sailing. My mother ran the Riding Stables attached to the school and my father taught sailing... as well as History, English and Latin.

We came back to England, and unfortunately, in the early 1950s, my parents divorced. My father had custody of me and my mother had custody of my young sister. My mother re-married and went to live in Malaya, as it was called then.

My father also re-married a woman he knew in the school in Germany. She had a son two years younger than me. It was at this time that my father bought the cottage in Torcross. We used to spend holidays there occasionally.

Then my father took on a Prep School near Tiverton... Ravenscroft, I think it was called. A lovely old building with wooden panels everywhere... I was allowed to keep my pony there in the school holidays.

As time passed, I left home...
By now now my father joined a school in Harpenden, St Albans. St George's School.

Shortly after his retirement, his second wife died. He then married a local widow who had always lived in Torcross. Her first husband had been the local doctor for many years. She was the loveliest person I have ever met. She and my father were so happy together and perfectly suited to each other. Your face ached after visiting them for a few hours as they were always smiling and laughing together. They never had a cross word or a disagreement the whole time they were together.

My father was devastated when he lost her many years later. We knew he had had enough of life then. He was so lonely without her even though her family all lived locally and visited all the time.

A year before he died, we had to put him in a home to get 24/7 help. This brilliant man was beginning to loose his memory. He was forgetting to eat and needed constant help. He always appeared to recognise me and my sister and those closest to him... But past memories were gradually being erased from his mind... He mistook one of his step daughters for his wife on several occasions. The two were very alike.

I was so sad to when he left this world... But I knew he'd meet up with his one true love and be pain free. I feel him now watching over me and as time passes, I can't be sad. As I said at the beginning, he had a good innings. I did love him so...

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