Days after I found out I was pregnant with my eldest I received a phone call from my mum whilst I was at work.
My mum never called me at work.
Answering the phone to my home number, which had been my home number since I was 6 years old and is somewhat etched on my brain, my mum spoke. Hello Laura it’s your mum.
Like I didn’t know the number or the voice.
What she said next floored me.
Just like that apparently. Whilst making a cup of tea.
The next few hours are a blur, I was living in London at the time and my best friend drove me home. My husband following up on a train with an overnight bag. All reminiscent of a similar journey to Leeds after discovering my mother in law had collapsed due to a brain aneurysm weeks earlier.
I didn’t get home in time to see my Dad. The ambulance had taken him away by this point.
Later that night we told my mum our baby news and the tears flowed.
Losing a loved one is never easy
Having something else to focus on both helped and hindered. I knew that I needed to eat, to sleep, to grieve in order to ensure my pregnancy would continue smoothly.
At the same time I was acutely aware that my unborn child would never know their grandfather. The man who taught me all the life lessons that I have never forgotten. Some of them useful, some of them that made me shout at the cantankerous old man that I’m sure he would have become. The man that made me believe I could achieve anything and to shoot for the moon. The man that shouted at me during a particularly teenage angst ridden break up that I was young and here was twenty quid to go out with my best friend.
Yet my child would not know him.
So it is up to us to keep his memory alive.
To make sure that the stories are told, and retold.
To let my children know about their Grandad Les.
And they do. They know he is in the sky. We have photos. We tell stories. All the time. Everywhere.
A special place
What I would love to have, and I’m pretty sure my dad would have loved too, would be a special place to sit and reflect.
My dad loved being outdoors, in the garden, drinking wine. The second the sun was shining he headed straight for his garden, just sitting contemplating. The same garden that we head home to every summer at my mums, where I know he would be sitting watching my boys roll around.
I always thought that memorial benches would need to go in public places, but looking into it, and finding a beautiful rememberance bench from Sloane & Sons, I have realised that a memorial bench can be anything you want it to be.
In a public place, with permission from the local council, or in a private garden. Personally inscribed with whatever you want. Hardwearing and durable.
A place to go to remember, to tell the stories, for the memories to live on.
A place for dad.