Dad was a horticulturist by trade; a gardener by hobby. It recently struck me how much he loved both. Because I was so young when he died, I’ve had to work hard at separating the gentleman from the myth, the man versus the legend. I’ve coveted every detail our mother could share until her memory faded with age and dementia. In 1989 I met his sister and my name sake Aunt Alys at her home in Northwood, England, returning with a fistful of photos.
What I’ve learned is this: he was a beloved brother, a generous spouse and a dad who loved his kids. He involved us in his hobbies, took each of his daughters on individual “dates,” and regularly brought home small gifts that he would hide behind his back till you guessed “which hand.” He was also a big tease, finding ways to “steal” your desert when you weren’t looking. He enjoyed photography and home movies and filled them with images of his children, the cats and the garden. He painted with oils with our mother as his muse and taught us what it meant to have compassion and integrity.
One of the most precious gifts our mother gave us was to say “your father would be so proud of you girls.” Daddy, the feeling is mutual.