by Carole Parkes
What can I say about my lovely caring father? I have nothing but praise for him. He died aged ninety-seven and was until the very last, the most gentle, kindest, and loving man I know, except maybe for my husband of fifty three years who comes in extremely close.
I have few memories of life when I was very young. I remember my dad making a doll’s pram for me out of old crisp tins. Money must have been short at the time and at least the improvised pram stopped me crying. Also I remember him whitening my sandals for Easter Sunday and the Whit bank holiday so I’d have smart shoes to go with my new dress.
Although my mother worked full time from the time I was three, I never lacked nurturing as my father supplied all the love and care I needed when mum was at work. My strongest recollection of those early years is of him rocking me to sleep every night while mother was out working in the cinema. To the tune of “Lily Marlene” he’d sing “Be-a-bye-a-bo-ee, be-a-bye-a-bo. I can hear it still. It’s such a strong loving memory of him. Then, when my eyes were almost closing, he’d give me a piggy back up the stairs to bed and tuck me in.
Although these are my early memories of him, he didn’t change at all as my two brothers and I grew into teenagers. Dad was always the one we went to with a grazed knee or cut finger. He was the one who tended our wounds and gave us advice. It wasn’t that mum didn’t love us, she suffered with depression and always seemed too busy to see to us. In those days there were very few labour saving gadgets. The washing of clothes was done by hand in the large stone kitchen sink using pans of boiled water. She also worked full-time.
If we had done something wrong, dad would gently explain why it was wrong, and how we could have done it differently. He never shouted or became angry, even though I know there were times when we deserved far more than his patience.
He was born on the sixth June 1918 in Liverpool, and lived most of his life in that city. When I married and moved away from Liverpool, my mum and dad came to live near me. With our support, they managed in their own home until they were both in their nineties but, eventually, in 2009, they had to go into a retirement home. Luckily, we found one that would take them both and they lived there until 2012 when they died.
I will raise a glass to my dad this father’s day. I’m so glad I was lucky enough to have such a wonderful man for my dad.
My mum gives her view of my dad, George William Smith, in her autobiography. You can read the first few chapters free on Amazon in the ‘Look Inside’ feature of her book.