This is the time of year when I remember my father, thinking of what could have been if the second World War hadn’t taken him from me.
I pay tribute to the man who gave me my height, my patience, my creative streak and my weird sense of humour all the time, but especially on Remembrance Sunday.
I know all of these things about him because people have told me what he was like. How he looked and sounded when he sat at the piano, belting out popular ragtime melodies.
They laugh when they tell me how funny he looked, stomping out the beat in his huge army boots.
I have lived all my life with these images, but have no way of knowing if they are true because I never met him. He didn’t return from the war and never met me.
I like to think that my life would have been so much better if he had come home, for my mother never got over losing him.
People say I shouldn’t feel sad for someone I didn’t know, but in a way, I do know him. He is a part of me and it certainly feels as though I knew him well. As well as I know myself.
When we moved to Hampshire, one of the first things I wanted to do was visit the coast. Something I have done many times since, but on that very first time, we walked past the D-day Museum on the seafront. There was a huge tank outside and this bronze statue of the Unknown Soldier. As I studied the soldier, something about his posture and bearing had me imagining that this is what my father would have looked like.
To me, my father is the Unknown Soldier, and I like to think I will get to meet him, one of these days…