We were lying in the tall grass that bordered the reservoir. We were gazing out at the shimmering water. It was a beautiful warm, spring day. The blue sky was dotted with small, puffy, white clouds which were lazily making their way to the south.
In the woods that surrounded us, the birds twittered and fluttered from tree to tree. This is a moment frozen in time in my memory. A moment I will always treasure. A moment full of love and togetherness.
The year was 1928 and I was seven years of age. The person lying beside me was my Dad. It’s strange I should be talking about my Dad because the day was actually Mother’s Day. However, this day had a very special meaning for Dad. So much so that it had become a ritual in our family, a ritual for Dad.
To show his love and appreciation for Mum, he would always give her a very special gift on Mother’s Day. This was not a gift that involved money, because Dad had no money. In fact, he once confessed to me, ‘I’m financially embarrassed.’
At that time I didn’t know what those big words meant, but I had a feeling he meant he didn’t have a cent to his name. This was understandable. Dad had a family of seven children and work was very scarce at that time. However, this did not deter him from making Mother’s Day a very special day for Mum.
So, how did this wise man overcome his lack of finances? He would present Mum with a huge bouquet of Mayflowers. However, he made it clear; this was not only a gift from him but also from the children.
Every Mother’s Day, Dad would take some of us children up to the woods to gather May flowers. The flowers always seemed more plentiful up around the reservoir. So, that’s how I found myself lying in the talk grass with my Dad gazing out across the water.
The rest of the children were searching for flowers, but we had a quiet special moment to ourselves. And what a moment it was. It was 88 years ago, but I’ll always remember and cherish that special time with Dad.
Why was this time so indelibly stamped on my memory? Well, it is because it was one time in my life I felt the closest to my Dad. Here was a man I loved most in the whole world lying beside me and talking to me like an equal. And how could I be equal to such a man? To me, he was the greatest man in the world. He was the strongest, wisest, the most dependable person this world had ever seen. I knew there had never been another man like him before, and there would never be another like him for all time to come.
How lucky I was to be lying there with my father. Our conversation was far from earth-shattering. However, it didn’t have to be. This was a father and son showing their love for one another. Here was a father and son enjoying the beauty of nature and the wonderful feeling of togetherness. To me, there was nothing else in this world, at this time, except me and Dad.
I asked him some childish, basic questions and he took each question very seriously. I asked him where all this water came from that filled the lake in front of us. He told me this lake was filled by brooks. I wanted to know why it was called the reservoir. Dad said this was the water that was piped down to the town of Truro. From this lake we received our water for drinking, cooking and washing. My father was full of knowledge.
I picked a dandelion from the tall grass surrounding us. It wasn’t a yellow fresh dandelion. It was one of these old white ones. I asked Dad why there were so many dandelions. He took the fluffy dandelion from me. He blew it and instantly many of these little white parachutes flew into the air. They floated gracefully on the gentle breeze. Many of them landed close but some were carried for hundreds of yards.
Dad explained that this was the way the dandelion spread its seeds. The dandelion could not move but its seeds could travel for miles. In this way there would always be dandelions bringing colour to many vacant fields.
I thought then and there, if I could be with my Dad all the time I wouldn’t have to go to school. I felt I could learn more from this wise man than all the teachers in Truro could ever teach me.
I learned many other things on that special spring day. But most of all, I learned the importance of family, the importance of Love, the importance of understanding and the importance of the most wonderful person in my life – my Dad.