Today, January 19th, twenty-two years ago, my Dad passed away from a heart attack. I still miss him, although we weren't close when he was alive - I think because his generation were not brought up to be open and demonstrative. I wish I had told him more often that I loved him.
My Dad saved my life once - at least, saved me from what could have been dreadful injury.
I was about 5 years old, sitting on the back seat of our green Morris Minor car which was parked outside the house on a steep hill. It was a very hot day, all the windows were open and I was playing with a toy telescope.
Suddenly the car started rolling down the hill, slowly at fist, but getting faster. I leant out the window - screaming and banging the telescope on the door.
Dad had been upstairs in his bedroom (getting ready to go out). He ran down the stairs, jumped over the garden gate and managed to leap onto the narrow running board, reached in through the window and steered the car into the kerb.
I don't remember anything after that - though I think he had sprained his ankle.
At the bottom of that hill was a busy main road.....
Dad had been a Prisoner of War, taken prisoner at the fall of Crete (where he had earned the Military Medal. He had been the only officer left alive after a German plane had attacked his troop (he was only a corporal). He led the rest of the men down from the hills to safety.
While a prisoner he was where the Wooden Horse escape happened : they dug tunnels using a wooden jumping gymnast horse to hide where the opening was. At first they hid the removed sand and earth in bags above the rafters of the accommodation huts - but the ceiling gave way.
Dad had been sitting there moments before it caved in!
Eagle-eyed readers might spot a discrepancy between the names on these two images (above) and my Dad's name. That's the same face - but a different name.
Dad was Fred Turner - but his official army papers and his war-time diary (which he kept as a prisoner of war) he was Rex Reynolds
and here is the real Rex Reynolds....
|Flt Lt Rex Reynolds|
While transferring from one camp to another Dad went into the train waggon as Kings Royal Rifles Corporal Fred Turner (yes, the same Rifles as Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe) - and came out as Flight Lieutenant Rex Reynolds.
Dad spent the rest of the war as Rex Reynolds. Had he been discovered he would have been shot.
The real Rex did escape - I always believed that he got back to England and carried on flying bombers, but I've recently discovered that he was re-captured.
After the war, Dad returned home, married my Mum, Iris Jones, and had three daughters. My sister Margaret, and Marilyn (who sadly died as a baby before I was born) and me.
He became a postman, then moved to a post-office clerk., where he remained until he retired - although in his last few years of work he became involved in setting up the Post Office Bank - Giro. Dad had one of the first accounts. Giro was eventually bought by Alliance and Leicester and then Santander. It would have been better to have remained the Peoples' Post Office Bank in my opinion.
Well, of course, she meant balancing the books - ensuring the day's takings at his counter in the Post Office were accurate and tallied. Only I didn't know that.
I stood there for a while, puzzled, thinking it through, then said, 'I didn't know Daddy worked in a circus.'
I could not understand why Mum laughed.
The last time I saw my Dad, he waved to me from the emergency room in A & E.
I didn't realise he was waving goodbye.
He died before I became a published author; Kathy was only ten. He would be so proud of her now - and of his grandson, Tom, who went to Cambridge University and is now a successful engineer.
I miss my Dad.