I am tall, slim to thin, straight talking, honest and pretty straight forward, opinionated, quite sharp tongued, quick to respond, loyal with a love of using my hands - and every time one of these characteristics surfaces I am reminded that I am my father's daughter.
My father; Henry Duncan Haggett, born 1929, died 2012 - 10 years ago.
Ten years ago on New Year's Eve I left a party and walked up the road just before midnight to slip into St Mary's hospital in Portsmouth to bring the new year in with my dad, the last one he would see in, I will always be thankful I did that, it was a very special moment. I was 44, he was 72 and hated being in the hospital. He wasn't an emotional man, he was a man of his generation who found it hard to show his feelings but his face lit up that night when I slipped into his room at a few minutes before midnight to spend the last minutes of the old year and bring in the new year with him.
We tuned in his radio, shared an ear phone each and held hands while the bells rang out and the fireworks flashed outside the window.
A constant stalwart in my life, slow to show praise, slow to criticize, just a constant, safe and loyal and always there. While others in the family needed to follow other paths, my dad always showed me that he was there for me. He didn't always, in fact quite rarely agreed with my choices, but would always support me with them.
Now when I look round my slightly shabby home I am reminded of him constantly. Ten years on and in every room there is a reminder of some sort of that very good man. The kitchen knife he gave me, sharp because 'you have to have one good sharp knife in your kitchen'. In the dining room - the brackets for the wall hanging that he carved for me, made to measure exactly as I asked for them. The bookcase, made in the wood I wanted, exactly the right shade to fit in the alcove, the 'antique' sewing table restored, the last thing he managed to do for me, not perfectly because by then he was quite sick, which makes it even more precious. In the hallway the pictures of him and me. The wooden fruits he made on his lathe that decorate my CD shelves, the shoe rack in my bedroom, rustic but functional, and in my 'studio' the jewellers drill and stand that he bought as a surprise to encourage me with my new 'hobby'. Tucked away in my bedroom cupboard is a beautifully polished wooden box with my initials carved and a secret opening mechanism that he made for me when I was 14, for me to hide my 'private things' from my brother! In fact as I am writing more and more things come to mind that I have around the house from my dad, things he fixed, things he made, few words spoken, just asked and he did them. I wasn't a little princess and I couldn't wrap him round my finger, but I knew he was always there when I needed him, and in those 44 years not once did he let me down, not once. And I miss that. I miss the fact that we argued constantly, that we rarely agreed on things, things that I have since changed over to his way of thinking. I regret little, but maybe I regret telling him more often how much I appreciated that, but maybe I didn't even know until it wasn't there anymore.
I remember the first time I heard this Luther Vandross song, I just bawled my eyes out, and still today it touches me deep inside.
I wonder whether people realise the unconditional love they receive until it's gone, I'm not sure I did, I do know that I am glad I returned to England to be able to spend his last years with him and finally really get to know him, and what a good man he was, and to be able to hold his hand and be by his side the moment he left this world, such a very good decent honest kind man.
I am happy today but it is a slightly cooler and emptier world without him.