Mumaleary's Blog

Cheaper than therapy

Happy Birthday Dad.

on June 20, 2019


Somewhere, in some weird and wonderful parallel universe today I should be sitting in a delightful beer garden somewhere family all, watching my dad blow out the candles on his 70th birthday cake. Actually; we may have opted for Royal Ascot where we could dress up and lord it up on Ladies Day all paid for by him of course because…that’s what dads do isn’t it- they look after their brood….That’s my understanding of a father.

Instead, my mum and my sister and I will raise a glass to the man we miss and each of us will wonder what life would have looked like if things had been different. But that’s not what life is- you can’t pick and choose it all; we’ve all seen Back to the Future*


And; whilst this is and always will be very sad, we have had over 30 years to grow around our grief. To manage its ebbs and flows and to smile at the few memories and imaginings of memories that we have stored away for safe keeping and; whilst that will never be enough, whilst I will always, always wish we had been gifted with more time it also IS enough.

It is enough because I know that I was loved and, in that respect I guess, a dead dad is better than a bad dad.

I appreciate that sounds hard and unfeeling but it might be true… I have seen the damage done by not knowing- the young people I used to work with had so many questions and were often so desperate to know more about their past and their parents that it was destroying their future. A file provided by a professional with as much blacked out as there is to read isn’t the same; your family is part of the fabric of who you are.

My mum and our friends and extended family give me that. They have furnished my sister and I with memories and the security of knowing that our daddy loved us and, had the choice been his to make, he would have been here today. I know what songs he loved (Brothers in Arms as todays ‘Blast of absolute class’ brought me to tears; someone else recalling early 80’s car journeys with their dad singing along to Dire Straits). I recall watching him get ready for work much as my girls do with Mr L today. I remember going to his office, I remember he made me feel safe and happy and loved. I never saw him fail, I never saw him frail, I never saw him fade into a shadow of the man he was. How lucky is that? To have that knowledge and to have people reaffirming it when I question or stumble or worry or forget is a massive deal and, without that I would have been a very different person.


So; whilst I can, and do, wish that our dad was still with us, his absence allowed me to create a picture perfect person because, when we die, we can never disappoint, we can never fail. We can only be remembered. Death, particularly when the person is young or it is unexpected creates romanticised ideals that are impossible to live up to. Over time the rawness of grief softens, the memories become more technicolour and, in my experience become mixed with happy dreams of imaginings of things that maybe never were. Those left behind are simply imperfect humans that have to pick up the pieces, do their best and keep on keeping on;  That’s the tougher gig by far.

And so; here we are, our unit of three that has swelled to a 9 doing our best to make memories for the next generation.

family photo yellow dresses

He lived, he loved and was loved and the legacy he leaves means I know what a good dad is and every day I get to see Mr L making my girls feel just as safe and secure and as loved as I ever was. To get that lucky twice is something special wouldn’t you say and that, for me, has to be enough.


one of a few precious pics which is why making memories is so important to me. 



Happy birthday daddy.

You are loved and remembered every day.

Tiny Tears. x

PS: Since you’re here- I’ve got a favour to ask… give someone you love a call today and tell them. There’s never a bad time to tell someone how glad you are to have them in your life.

*If you haven’t seen Back to the Future- please do!







4 responses to “Happy Birthday Dad.

  1. alison jones says:

    P.s I’m now crying at my desk, getting asked what is wrong 🙈

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android


  2. jumpinginnes says:

    And I’m crying in the hairdressers.

    Love you mate xx


  3. Claire Whelan says:

    I have just read this post today and it resonates with me so much, as I lost my Dad to cancer last month and I am finding things a bit tough right now. Your words are so true, especially as we had already lost my Mum to cancer in February and I was just starting to find my new way in life when we suddenly lost my Dad. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!


    • Mumaleary says:

      Thank you so much for your comment Claire, so sorry for your loss and I am not surprised to hear that things are tough. I always find that at this time of year too. Thanks for reading, be gentle with yourself and don’t be scared to smile. X


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