100 And What It Means To Me
Had he still been alive, my dad would have been 100 today. He's been gone for more than twenty years now, but his influence on my life is still so strong, that in many ways it feels like he's still here. In fact, I went to have a tarot card reading a few years ago as research for a story I was writing at the time and was told that he's still hanging around and when my house keys inexplicably go missing (as they frequently do) it's because he's hiding them to play tricks on me and let me know he's still there. I'm not sure whether or not I believe this, but it's a comforting thought and I have to confess that whenever I can't find them, I do utter a frustrated, 'Dad it's not funny anymore, I'm in a rush. Give them back!' And sure enough, a few seconds later I tend to find them, often in a place I'm sure I've already looked in!
However, I've been thinking a lot more about Dad recently, partly because the book I'm in the middle of writing is partially set during World War Two and that era inevitably leads to thoughts of my dad. But it's been a bit different this time. I've been doing a lot of research into Operation Fortitude and the Double Cross team who led the Nazis to believe that the Normandy invasions on D-Day were a diversion for the real attack, which was coming in the Pas-de-Calais. My dad landed on Sword beach six days after D-Day and a few years ago I took a trip over there with my boys to see whereabouts he'd landed and the probable route he'd taken as he fought his way through to liberate Caen, before fighting through to Berlin. I wish I knew more about this period of his life, but he was always reluctant to talk about it, as were so many others, so I only have little snippets of information. I managed to get his service record sent to me and this shed a little more light on matters, but it's something that I need to spend some proper time researching. What I do know now, thanks to my recent reading, is that had it not been for Tar Robinson and his team (and particularly the bravery of Johnny Jebsen who didn't give up Dusko Popov, even under torture) my dad's chances of survival would have been significantly reduced and I might not have been here at all.
So on what would have been his 100th birthday (or his 101st, according to the British Army, as he lied about his age in order to join up), as well as paying tribute to my dad, I also want to say a huge thank you to the brave men and women of all nationalities, who gave him a better chance of living through that experience.
Dad was 17 when he went off to fight and I can't imagine waving my own 17-year-old off to war. He's still such a child and I'm sure that Dad would have been no different. Let's be honest - he never truly grew up and we wouldn't have had him any other way!
My boys have inherited so much from him, including his looks in Arthur's case, but I can only hope their hair genes come from my husband's side of the family, otherwise they'd better appreciate it for the short time they'll have it! Dad was bald by the time he was 21.
I still miss Dad terribly, but I'm grateful for the time we had together and for the huge amount of love I was showered with, even if I didn't always appreciate the care and protectiveness at the time!
Happy 100th Birthday, Dad. Love you.