It’s the way she places her head on my shoulder that defines her. The unusual way in which, when she wants a hug, she bends her head toward me while standing a short way off before moving nearer to me so that I can wrap an arm about her. It is a love that has no edges, no preconceived ideas of how that emotion should be. It is simply something she feels and reacts to. It is as unconditional as a mother’s love even though she is my daughter. No matter how or when we fall out, and we do, within the shortest of spaces all is forgiven. Love returns to and flows from her like water from a tributary.
The way she says “OH!” when the simplest thing is explained as though she has had an epiphany; the way she flutters her eyelids when she speaks so as to focus on the words forming inside her head and not the face in front of her: the way she laughs at the looniest of things; the way she stomps up the stairs muttering vague obscenities when she is cross; the way she calls me “Father Jenkins”- no one knows where the Jenkins comes from, I am not a Jenkins and we have no relations who are but still I am either “Father” (pronounced in very patronising tones), “Father Jenkins” when she is in silly mode or, and the one I like the most, “Daddy.”Of course she annoys me at times. Her forever young mind finds the oddest things funny. Death preoccupies her. Not mine or her mother’s demise but that of anyone, especially famous people who have grown old. “Is he dead?” “Is she dead?” It is as if after a certain time all actors and actresses, just by having a long career means they must be old thereby increasing their chance of having died.
Going to the cinema is a bundle of laughs too. Not for the other poor souls in the audience perhaps but for me and Squid. Throughout the film she hits me with a constant stream of questions. “Who’s that?” “Is he a bad man?” “Is he going to hurt that lady?” To which I reply “Squid I don’t know, I have never seen this film. Now stop asking me questions and watch then you’ll find out. Remember that other people don’t want to hear you all the time.” And so she stops for maybe two minutes.
“Is he dead?”
“No, but you will be soon!”
She giggles then slurps on her coke digging her fingers noisily into the bag of chocolate Revels before laying her head upon my shoulder
Sometimes we catch the bus. It is something I got out of the habit of doing but, due to circumstance, have taken up again. We have popped into town a couple of times. I took her there just before Christmas. She wanted to get presents for the family and though it was freezing she didn’t once moan. We caught a cab home even if I could ill afford it.
We went to Waitrose to help my mum get her weekly shopping. Squid saw a woolly hat and a scarf she thought my mum would like. The hat was £35 and the scarf £25. Not a fortune I know but more than needed. I told Squid it was too much. She argued with me saying she would pay anything for her Grammy as she loved her. That kind of innocent, unassuming love is priceless. I persuaded her to buy an equally nice gift that was a lot cheaper.
Her boyfriend is Alex. He has cerebral palsy. He came to her 22nd birthday celebration. They are going to marry when they can afford to and she says she will look after him. She who cannot cook, cannot iron or count change.
I do not love her any more than I do her bother or sisters but I do feel incredibly protective of her. I have awful fears though. Whatever will she do when we aren't here for her? Whatever will she do when our lives change irrevocably? When all that was comfortable and Familiar becomes unknown and strange?
all words and art are copyright © of Russell 'C.J' Duffy.To view my books on Amazon/Kindle go here: https://www.amazon.com/author/russellduffy -- For another side of CJ go here: sOMeThiNg For tHE wEeKeND, SiR?