19th November was Dad's birthday, and he would have reached the grand old age of 100 today.
I like to think that he would still have his usual sharp mind. But I have to admit that by now he would have been crucified by creeping arthritis, and on that count alone his life would be very uncomfortable.
He would also have been a widower for eleven years. I wonder how he would have borne life without Mum? They were devoted to each other. I would have been no substitute at all, beyond becoming his live-in carer. I'd join him in the same house that I live in now, but the other bedroom would have been my room. I dare say we would have pooled our very decent pension incomes and be living in great style, with all the best and latest gadgets, especially those that saved physical effort. Dad was no fuddy-duddy when it came to useful tech: he'd embrace it.
But nothing can take away the pain of loss. And Dad knew that pain. Dad had a very successful life, but it was marred by the death of my younger brother when Dad was 75 - the only time I ever saw him break down and cry - and the death of Mum when he was coming up to 89. He followed Mum so very soon afterwards. But if he hadn't, I think he would have found a way to live without her. He wouldn't have become introspective and bitter. He was so much bigger and better than that. He was resilient, inventive and resourceful. He also had a talent for drawing and writing. The first was out of the question - the arthritis in his hands was too bad for fine work - but he'd have set to (in two-fingered style) with a computer keyboard, and might well have produced a novel, or even a history, based on his experiences in life. He would have binged on TV golf, and, keeping his mind alert, would also have followed the news carefully. He would have had interesting things to say about the events of 2020.
I have assembled some pictures from every decade of his life. These are mostly not my own photographs, but that doesn't matter.
This is Dad age three, in 1923.
Here he is, with a rather glamorously dressed Mum at my cousin Rosemary's wedding reception in 1975; and dancing there with another of my cousins, Sylvia.
Even so, I have often wondered, during the last ten years, what he might say about my own life since 2009. I like to think he'd give me full credit for coming through those years rather well. But I can't be sure what he'd think about the person I became, once I was alone, and independent, and free of all the circumstances that had ever held me back. Once I'd shaped my own future, without consulting him. Perhaps he'd still be wistful for the old, quiet, amiable, compliant me, who had always said yes. Perhaps I would make him feel slightly uncomfortable with all the self-confidence and assertiveness I'd acquired.
On the other hand, he'd have enjoyed the good games of cribbage or piquet I'd have given him daily. And the tasty lunches, with a good pint, in the country pubs I'd have taken him to. And all the jokes we'd share.
I wouldn't have let him down.