When I was around six or seven years old I collected tiny little stuffed toys, around the size of my little finger. They were different breeds of cats and dogs that each came in a little cardboard kennel and they all had their own name. I have no idea how much they cost – all I know is that they were sold in the toy aisle of Tesco. Every Saturday morning I would go with my Pappie to do the weekly food shop. I’d always go check which tiny stuffed cats and dogs they had on the shelf that week. I would pick one that I didn’t already have and I’d run up to my dad and say “this can be my early birthday present, I promise I won’t ask for anything else”. He would always give a big sigh and nod, as I placed my new little friend in the shopping trolley.
When I was twelve or thirteen, I had my heart set on the brand new Nintendo DS. I remember the exact morning I showed it to my dad in the Argos catalog, pointing out the game of NintenDogs that “would fill the hole in my heart for the dog that we don’t have”. After a few more weeks of convincing, a big sigh and a hint of a smile, he agreed to purchase what he most probably knew was the biggest waste of money.
When I was 14, I came home one day and told my dad about the new Ballet school in town, that would “totally, completely change my life”. I told him how “you never know, I could probably be a ballerina if I really try”. It was a half an hour drive to that Ballet school. Without hesitation or a complaint, he sat with me for the shoe fittings and drove me every week – until a few months later when I told him that “Ballet probably isn’t for me”.
When I was 18, I moved away from home to university with a smile on my face and a dream in my heart. I didn’t come home often but when I did, I told my dad about all my friends and how perfect life was.
My dad stood by me when I was 20, as my dream started to fall apart and pieces of my heart were slowly chipping away. He loved me when I was so hopeless, so broken and so depressed. He never said much but I knew that his heart broke too.
My dad welcomed me home last year, when I was turning 21. We painted my room blue and he carried a dressing table upstairs, which he let me paint white. I told him about a new dream I’d been dreaming about. Without a second thought, he paid for my writing course with Penguin and told me he was proud of me when my first writing piece was published in a magazine.
He nodded when I asked him if I could quit my job to fully pursue my writing career.
My dearest Pappie,
Your not-so-little girl is sitting here on Father’s Day, with tear-filled eyes and an overwhelmingly thankful heart.
Thank you for never asking why or pointing out the messy failures. Thank you for always providing, always loving and most of all, for always believing in your baby girl, whose heart is still dreaming.