Me and my dad – many moons ago!

 It’s been a few weeks since publishing here and I wanted to dedicate today’s post to my lovely dad who passed away on April 2nd.

I flew home to the UK and have been there for the past couple of weeks with family and friends saying a heartfelt goodbye to my dad. My dad was one of five and my mum is one of four, and I am the eldest of all the cousins. It was so lovely to see everyone together, but such a shame it wasn’t under happier circumstances.

I have really missed my blog community during this time, not being up to posting and not being able to visit you all as often as I’m used to. I also kicked off the Spring session of “Big Dreams, Small Wonders” last week so have been dedicating my time there also.

I want to say thank you for your continuous support and messages that I have received during this time and even though I am working through this still, I am ready to be back in my creative life.

Me helping my dad bring the beers in 
(yes the proverbial apple doesn’t fall far from the tree does it!)

I have lots of happy memories of my dad and he was also a keen photographer so going through his enormous collection of all the family photos with my mum and brother when I was back was upsetting, but also very comforting.  We cried and laughed for many hours. Thanks to my brother for spending countless hours scanning all the photos into the computer.
 Dad at school – photo is hand colored by my grandad.
My dad was a conscientious student – and these values were passed down to me and my brother to simply just do our best at school – we were always encouraged to focus, but never pressured to be grade A students. This then evolved into demonstrating a strong work ethic, as well as respect and kindness to others in both our professional and personal lives.
My dad was a keen footballer and cricketer – Often in the captains role, enforcing team spirit and team work. He showed us how we were part of the bigger picture and the community – my dad always took an interest in other people.

My dad was always up for fun and a laugh!
Dad in the stocks on a family holiday!
My dad taught me to be loyal, stand by my promises and values, work hard, be kind and have a positive attitude no matter what was going on in my life. At the funeral, it was amazing to hear so many accounts of people saying how lovely my dad was, how he never thought or said a bad word about anyone he met. Most of all, that in the past 10 years since he had the tragic accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down, he never complained, let anyone feel sorry for him or feel sorry for himself. He inspired so many people to live their lives differently and more fully.

My dad had a great sense of humor. He was also happy to make a fool of himself at costume parties and for school fairs (we loved the dressing up box as kids)

He constantly told me how proud he was of me and my brother. That even though I was far away, living in another country, he was so happy that I was following my dreams, my passions and making a difference. Both my mum and dad taught me to “go against the grain” and it was their unfailing love and support that kept me going to constantly believe in myself.

He taught us to be adventurous.
Scaring my brother and I rocking the boat!

My last conversation with dad was at the end of March when I had my artwork published. Hearing his happy voice, and his love and pride for what I was doing, makes me stronger to power on through these feelings of loss and live my life more fully.

 All dressed up, out in his wheelchair. He spent the first few years after his accident being independent and not letting his injuries or the fact he was wheelchair bound restrict him from living his life.

Most of all, his love for mum, family and no matter what – the importance of celebrating even through the tough times.

Mum and Dad Celebrating. 
They were married on April 1st so they also celebrated the day before he passed away. It’s so comforting to know his last day on this earth was spent celebrating.

 Thank you dad for giving me life, love and encouraging me to live a life I love, no matter what people say or how they react. Thank you for being courageous and showing us courage. You will be desperately missed.

Each life really does touch so many lives – we are all connected.  This was demonstrated last Wednesday when we celebrated his life in the UK. Below is one of the poems read out and through our sorrow, it was so heartfelt to see many friends and family packing out the chapel. The crowd that came to say their last farewell showed me just how much one man can be loved and make such a difference.

Not how did he die, but how did he live?
Not what did he gain, but what did he give?
These are the units to measure the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of birth.
Not, what was his church, nor what was his creed?
But had he befriended those really in need?
Was he ever ready, with word of good cheer,
To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
Not what did the sketch in the newspaper say,
But how many were sorry when he passed away.
-poem by 

Summer Sandercox