It is early morning and still dark outside my window when I hear Dad whispering in my ear.
Glenys, get up…let’s go swimming.
It’s Saturday! I jump out of bed and pretty soon we’re on the bus, going to Wigan Baths. The pool is huge and the water is cold but Dad has already dived in. Not me. I’m an inch-by-incher my dad calls me, and I take forever to get in the water.
But that’s not the only reason…. I am afraid. I can’t swim.
Dad takes hold of me and with one strong arm under my stomach he supports me over the water while I vainly flap my arms and legs. I look out over the deep end and vow I will never go there.
But then an amazing thing happens. I realize my dad has taken his arm away and I am swimming!
I’m swimming Dad, I’m swimming!
We both laugh and I know that next week, I’ll be in that deep end and I’ll be swimming under my dad’s legs like a little fish.
On the way back I savor every one of my Benson’s Cheese and Onion Crisps but I will still have room for the piles of crusty toast my dad will make for us when we get home.
It is Summer. I am eight years old.
I wake with the birds and see that Dad is already packing the boot of our blue Vauxhall Victor.
He crams my tennis racket down by the side of the box of beans and cornflakes and biscuits that we have been saving for our holiday and then the best part begins…..
We race into Mum and Dad’s bedroom and tip our jars of pennies on the bed. Whatever we have saved will be doubled by dad and spent in the little camp shop at Blue Anchor Bay.
And then we are off!
I curl up with my little I Spy book that will occupy me for most of the journey, and dream about days at Blenheim Gardens and Watchet and Minehead and Dunster.
Most of all, I dream about the day when it will be my turn to have The Big Ice-cream.
I will choose a Mr Whippie, with huge, soft vanilla and strawberry swirls that hang over the edge of the cone.
And me and my dad will play tennis and badminton and hunt for glow worms at night. And I know I must be the luckiest girl alive to have a dad like that.
It is Autumn. I am nine years old.
We are walking down to Roby Mill Methodist Church along College Road.
The pavement is strewn underfoot with a million brown, crunchy leaves. Dad leads the way and we scrunch, scrunch, scrunch behind him.
Fast forward a few months on that same road. Dad helps us find twigs and we race them in the rushing stream of rain that tumbles along the edge of the pavement.
Oh no! I’m in the doldrums! the cry goes up.
But it’s a funny thing….no matter how many doldrums our little boats get stuck in, Dad never wins. Always, one of us kids is the winner.
It is Winter. I am ten years old.
The nights are long and dark, but Dad knows just how to cheer me up.
Who’s ready for a Secret Supper? he asks.
We all cheer and a plate is produced with a quarter of a buttered Eccles Cake, a small piece of Kit Kat, half a Bourbon biscuit and a cup of Ovaltine.
When those nights get really long and dark, our suppers are upgraded to a Special Secret Supper, or even a Super Special Secret Supper.
As I nibble at the edge of my biscuit, I am reminded what a Super Special dad I have.
We curl up in bed and he reads The Lost World and I am transported to a strange forest where all kinds of adventures await me. And from my dad, a life-long love of books and reading is rooted in my soul.
Before I fall to sleep, we play Show Me and we take it in turns to find tiny images in the pictures. One day, I will play that game with my grandson….and my dad’s legacy lives on.
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter…..seasons of my childhood spent with the most wonderful dad a girl could ever have.
Thank you Dad. I love you.