Mrs Laz Writes…
Our 'in house' columnist gives it up for the dads – in particular, her own.
It was Fathers’ Day on 20th June which is a big deal in The House of Laz. Mostly because we love any excused for a party. But The Governor is the main man and we love a day to celebrate how much the nine of us in the house love him. Admittedly that does include the two cats; they’re more grateful than most for him picking up their shit on a daily basis.
I try to celebrate my own late father all the time. I talk to him about new television shows I’m watching that I think he’d like, and new books I’m reading, and a lot of BBC Radio 4’s schedule. I am a daddy’s girl. In winter, I wear his old polo shirt in bed and always carry a tie of his (cravat to be precise) in the bottom of my handbag.
As a child he shouted at me religiously. Mostly about manners, table manners in particular, and now I do the same with my kids. For every meal. Without fail. He was pedantic about use of language, a family trait which unfortunately Mr Laz now has to put up with – don’t get me started on his Instagram grammatical errors. I have actually now been banned from looking at his page.
Dad was passionate in his love of France and all things French, signing off every correspondence he had with me with ‘à bientôt’. It was only recently that I realised how hopeful and loving this phrase is. Never ‘au revoir’, never ‘goodbye’; always ‘see you soon’. Because time apart is hard, and the thought of writing goodbye to me or those closest to him is just too dreadful.
After I had my children, dad and I became even closer. When my boys were little he’d shout at them for their table manners, then take them off to hit golf balls in the field next to the house just as he had done with me when I was their age. Some days when I’m talking to him now I’ll mention how tough it is to raise the boys. There’s an awful lot of them under my charge, and there’s a weight on my shoulders that I want to share with someone close. I can reminisce about the music that he introduced me to, and the wine, and the food, and the laugher; about the time aged four on the beach in France, I jumped on this stomach after a long lunch and made him sick; about when he took me and my best friend out the day before we got our exam results to celebrate me and my achievements regardless of the following day’s outcome; about when he chased a boy down the field who was trying to climb into by bedroom window (it’s the countryside, people) and the day I lay next to him on his small bed made up in his sitting room, and felt his last breath leave his body.
It was strange lying there, because he rarely let me cuddle him. He was terribly old fashioned (the clue was in the cravat). I knew he must have been very sick when one day we had gone for a short walk with the children and he held my hand on the way back to the house. I grabbed it so tight and had to keep facing forward because I didn’t want him to see the tears rolling down my cheeks. So much was said in that one moment and I’m so grateful to have shared it with him.
Before he died we planned his funeral together, just the two of us. Five songs we picked as we shared a half-bottle of Champagne. He couldn’t manage more than a sip and I had to keep running into the other room so he wouldn’t see my cry. But I remember every word of our final conversation before he slipped to a place with no more words.
Rather than being sensitive about a day in the calendar, I’m grateful that people know I’m thinking about my father. Rather than the other three hundred and sixty-four days, when I’m alone with my conversations to him in my head. I’ll go upstairs and look at the watch he wore that his father wore before him. I might hug the kids a bit tighter but I’ll try not to wish too hard that he were here. Getting to meet my daughter, being able to hold her little hand and to tell me how like my mother she looks. I’ll try not to hope that I don’t feel the sudden stabbing pain of grief in my stomach when I remember each day that he won’t be here again. But I will show the kids photos and tell them stories and do impression of his booming voice telling me off.
So I’m sorry if you thought you were going to hear a breakdown of Chateaux Laz celebrations. Of us running through the woods naked carrying Banksy merch or setting fireworks off the roof of the house (that’s reserved for Christmas). I just wanted to talk to my dad to tell him I love him.