Anyone Can Be a Father, It Takes A Man To Be A Dad
For A Very Special Man
Let me introduce you to Stan. Not the most impressive man to look at, standing 5' 6" tall, with what used to be a head full of shocking red hair. Stocky in build, others would say wiry, in fact just a normal everyday guy. But not to me.
You see a long time ago, the day I was born in fact, this man took me into his arms and told the world he would be my dad. As he held me in his arms he vowed no one would ever hurt me. He choose to do this, the most unselfish of gestures, he choose to make my life special.
My mother had done the unthinkable, she had had an affair with a married man, a catholic married man with a family of his own. Oh yes this man made her promises. His marriage was over and he would spend the rest of his life with her and his child. However, one very special person stood in his way, God. Catholics at the time I was born where not allowed to divorce, and my mother being the special lady that she was, decided to go it alone. No marriage, no man and certainly no father. My mother was very proud and hoping to be forgiven for this most terrible of sins, even kept my fathers name a secret until she passed away, leaving me none the wiser.
Desperate for answers, I contacted the usual sources, Social Services, Salvation Army even Cilla Black on Surprise Surprise, oh and of course the chat show host with the most, Mr Jeremy Kyle. No one could help me, mum had done her homework very well. Without as much as a name I had nowhere to go.
This brings me back to Stan, my godfather. As a child we lived on a farm, My Uncle Jim's farm. My mother grew flowers, the most beautiful dahlias in the most magnificent colours. Bloom upon bloom of delightful flower heads swaying in the breeze. Many people stopped to admire, and bought a few blooms for loved ones, but mostly they were sold to local florists. Yes, we had animals too. Chickens mostly, our farm in comparison, was very small to the beef and pork farms surrounding us.
Stan worked for Leyland Motors in Leyland, some 26 miles away. A journey he did every day by bicycle. Every Friday evening I would stand by the gate to wait for him to return home. Eagerly watching the bike swaying slightly, after the normal visit to the bar for a pint of beer, I remember the excitement of running up to meet him to get a ride on the handlebars of his bike.
Our dog Timmy, a black and white collie, stood on the garden wall and barked his delight to see Stan home. Even the cat, Mickey, wandered along the garden fence, to stand to attention, purring for all he was worth, to greet Stan.
I knew Friday was my treat night also, a 1/4lb of Merry Maid caramels. Blue and gold foil paper with a milk maid on the front. We would walk into the house to the lovely smell of home baked bread from the kitchen, and Stan would lift me up and put me on the kitchen table. Open his pocket and pull out the caramels. I would hug him tightly, smelling the warmth of his body from the bicycle ride and pint of beer, which would always be familiar to me.
Sunday evening was bath night. The old farmhouse was not blessed with a bathroom. The old tin bath used to hang securely on the back of the kitchen door. Mum would have a roaring fire lit in the hearth and the bath would be put on the rug and filled with a hosepipe from the kitchen sink. Taking a hot bubble bath in front of a roaring fire, under dimly lit lights was pure heaven. Once wrapped in a warm towel, Stan would dry my hair for me. Rough hands, full of calluses from hard work, but gentle and tender. He would then read me a story and put my electric blanket on to warm the bed before making me a cup of hot milk to help me to sleep.
School uniforms where never a problem. Although we had little money, Stan paid. He cleaned my shoes until you could see your face in them every day for school. Sports days he would stand side by side with my mum, shouting me on, encouraging me to do well. Lifting me up onto his shoulders for the short walk home.
He grew his own vegetables, fabulous broad beans sweet enough to eat from the pod. Tomatoes, potatoes that were like fluffy balls of flour, and gorgeous lettuce for our salads. He helped around the house as much as his day job would allow. Paid for mum and I to go on holiday whilst he stayed at home to look after the animals. He was always there for me.
I knew Stan was not my birth father from a very young age, but it didn't matter, I called him Stan, but he was my dad, my hero. He knew me better than my mother did. This man had a huge heart. Kindness personified. His nickname was Sandy because of the colour of his hair. He had known my mother all the years of her life and they where brought up as brother and sister.
Stan lived with mum and I until I was 7 years old and mum was diagnosed with cancer. She couldn't manage the farm any more and we moved into a flat 7 miles away. Stan still cycled the 26 mile each way route to work, carried on with the farm and then rode his bicycle a further 7 miles each way to sit with us in the evening. Mum made him his dinner, and he would continue with his routine of cleaning my shoes, helping me to do my homework and reading me a story before I went to bed.
If I was poorly, he would sit at my bedside and comfort me. Bring me numerous drinks to sooth my fever, close the curtains to stop the light hurting my eyes when I had measles. Rub my bruised knees, put plasters on my sore fingers and pick me up when I was down.
He dried my eyes with hankies when a relationship didn't work out. Talked sense into me when I needed it, helped me resolve a problem and never once passed judgement or a cross word. He never interfered if mum and I argued, and always held his hand out if I needed money. The shoulder to cry on was given with so much love, and was always there. This man I called Stan was the best father any girl could of wished for.
When my mum passed away he tried to adopt me, but was not allowed to as he was a single man and I was only 14 years old. Selfish to a fault, Stan gave the farm up to move around the corner to my foster home. And there he remained until I was 18 years old and ready to be on my own.
For many years he lived with my Aunt Lil and Uncle Ernie hundreds of miles away, close to London. But he was only as far away as a phone call. My Uncle Ernie had bowel cancer when he first moved to live with them. He helped my Auntie Lil nurse her husband until he passed away, and then he stayed to support my Auntie Lil, caring for her as she became ill with Parkinsons disease.
I admired Stan so much, so much warmth and love as any human being could have. When my Auntie Lil passed away, Stan was getting old. He was tired and lonely, and I made him come and live with my family and I.
He was a great grandfather to Craig. Spent hours in the garden with him, teaching him to grow those beautiful broad beans. Sat and cradled Craig whilst they watched the football on TV together. Bathed his grazed knees and read him stories before he went to sleep. They where very close. He played endless hours with Craig, they where farmers, Joe and Charlie. I used to laugh as I heard Craig giving the orders "Reet lad," my dad would reply in his broad Lancashire accent.
Stan lived with me for the last twelve years of his life and I was only too privileged to know him. Without him I would never have coped. Both Craig and I owe him so much. He took a stoke 10 years ago and never regained consciousness. I never got the chance to tell him how much I loved him, but he knew. You see, passing a spiritualist church one Sunday afternoon, I called in. The physic medium I met was visiting from Scotland. She knew I was in mourning and told me Stan was happy. Sensing that I was not quite convinced, she asked as I left "Whose favourite vegetable was cauliflower", that changed my mind as I could see Stan with a huge smile on his face, eating a steaming dish of cauliflower and cheese sauce, his favourite.
Always A Father
The man in my life was not my dad,
But he was always to me my father.
With guidance to give for as long as he lived
He will be in my heart forever.
This man I loved, for all the day was long,
He stood by my side, never to falter, never to hide
But to give me love and kindness and shelter
Indebted to him, but I would have it no other way
He promised to be by my side, whatever.
My father was called Stan, not very big in stature
A giant amongst men, huge loving, caring nature
A friend for life, and in my life he will always be
My incredibly, beautiful long suffering father.
I wrote on your headstone, for all to see,
Forever in my thoughts, in my dreams you will be
and in my heart forever, Love you, miss you until I see you again.
My tribute to the best dad that was never my birth father. You have been gone 10 long years now, but I still smell you and feel those comforting warm hugs. I loved you then and I love your memory more now DAD.