I’ve never really embraced Valentine’s Day – I’ve never gone wild for huge bouquets of roses and boxes of chocolates. I’ve never had great expectations of what I might receive. I’ve not been that bothered. To me Valentine’s Day is far more personal, it was the day I would say Happy Birthday Papa.
My Papa was a wonderful bear of a man. I adored him as a little girl. I always found it amusing that his middle name was Valentine. I never got to ask him what he thought about that. I wonder how he coped at school, I wondered how he coped as a Vicar with Valentine as his middle name.
Papa grew the most amazing roses, they were his pride and joy. Reds, pinks and yellows. You’d arrive at his bungalow and the front garden would be awash with colour, wonderful scent and delicate petals. He was rushed into hospital on my 13th birthday, he died 3 days later, unexpectedly, on his wedding anniversary. I never got to say goodbye, neither did my Mum, which must have been awfully hard for her.
For a long, long time I couldn’t bare to look at roses. I missed Papa too much. As an adult I still can’t look at coloured roses without thinking of him, without feeling a little sad. Somehow white roses are ok, I don’t associate white roses with Papa at all! I had white roses in my wedding bouquet. But bright colourful roses – say Papa to me, loud and clear!
I’d love to have known Papa as an adult. Having learnt about his parents, I can only imagine that his Mother fought to have Valentine as his middle name. His Father was a harsh man, certainly not romantic, so I like to think his Mother must have been.
So today, I will look at the clouds and say Happy Birthday Papa, I hope you’re tending a rose garden in the heavens. I miss you Papa, I always will