To my girls, today was a sad day; a year since your Grandpa's funeral. That was a strange day; a day for tears but also a day to laugh and talk to your Grandpa's friends and colleagues, some who knew Grandpa when he was a little boy, all about what a wonderful man he was.
I wanted to stand up and say something that day. To tell all those people what an awesome Daddy he was, how brilliant a Grandpa he was, and how he filled our lives with so much happiness and fun.
I'm sure by the time you are big enough to read this, you'll know the stories I recounted that day, some of my favourite stories, off by heart. I hope you do. But in case you ever want to read all about your Grandpa and I'm not there to tell you, this is for you.
It's so sad to read about all the things we didn't get to do, and about how much darker the world is without your Grandpa here, but remember to always think of the silly games and funny things Grandpa said, and would say, and you'll be laughing in no time. It's what he would have wanted, I know that for sure.
I love you my darlings.
Love Mama xxx
A few weeks before Christmas, I spoke to Dad on Skype, as we did
so often while he was away, and I asked him if he'd had any more
adventures on his new motorbike. Of course, he had, riding along
beautiful stretches of Australian coastline. It was on one such
adventure that he'd stopped at a biker cafe he'd passed. He pulled up
on his Norton, complete with turn up jeans and his old leather jacket
with vintage patches, took off his helmet to reveal his quiff, and
was met with sniggers and shouting from the group of Hell's Angels
that had taken over the bar. Remembering headlines of gang violence,
armed robbery and curfews linked to this group, Dad stood, encircled,
knowing that these Hell's Angels were the real deal, and wondering
which way this was going to go.
So he did what he did best, and he cracked a joke.
And after a silent pause, the whole group burst into laughter and
welcomed him with open arms into the bar.
That was Dad. No matter where he was in the world, no matter what
the situation or the type of people, that was my Dad. He bought a
smile to the face of everyone he met, burly Hell's Angels included,
and was always, instantly loved by them all. It was this charm that
once allowed us to leave a restaurant in Prague without paying,
because Dad had forgotten his wallet. Dad's smile and way with words
had the restaurant manager won over in minutes and he was happy for
us to go back the next day. That was more than ten years ago, and
every restaurant visit since resulted in Dad pretending to forget his
wallet. And we always laughed; every time.
Over the last few weeks, my brother, sister and I have received
such lovely emails from friends and colleagues of Dad's all over the
world, and every single one of them talks about the laughter he
bought to their lives; the light he bought to the world.
We all have so much to learn from the life Dad led. He was an
inspiration; to me and to so many others. He seized every opportunity
to experience new adventures and learn something different. He worked
hard and lived every day to the full. And he did it all with a smile.
Like so many of you, it's that smile I will always remember. It
brightened every day I got to see it; it has brightened the darkest
moments of the last month, and I know that it will brighten the tough
times that are yet to come. Every day, we should all strive to bring
the same happiness to someone, that my Dad did; to follow in his
footsteps and make the world a better place in his honour.
Dad's job meant that we could go for long periods of time without
seeing him. In the last few years alone he'd spent many months
working in Australia and Germany, but our time together was always
the more special because of that. In just a few hours together, we'd
have more fun and more laughs than other people would have in weeks.
No-one has a Dad like us. And I am so proud to be able to call him my
Daddy. Prouder today, than ever.
And no-one has a Grandpa like Tyler, Coby and Josephine. Before
Dad started work in Australia last summer Josephine and I spent so
many lovely days hanging out with Dad, in the garden, in the
sunshine. I will never forget the fun those two had, the laughter and
the adoration. Skyping with Dad and Josephine involved raspberry
blowing sessions that lasted 15 minutes and whole conversations with
him wearing his bike helmet and goggles because Josephine had asked
him to put on his 'motorbike hat', which he loved and happily agreed
to. In the last few months Dad and I had spoken so much about plans
for this year. We should have had so many more days together. More
time for Josephine to have adventures with her Grandpa, more time for
him to meet our new Baby. But they will always know him. They will
know all our favourite stories about him by heart, they will know his
beautiful face, and I know he will be watching over them, forever.
For as long as I can remember, I've been told that my Dad was a
legend. Whenever we visited film sets, Dad's colleagues would be
jostling to tell us how awesome he was, which we all knew, of course.
Charlie said last week how people just flocked to Dad; wanting to be
in his presence, to share a piece of his happiness. So many of Dad's
idols died too young; James Dean, Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly. They
had so much more to give; they left people wanting more. Just like
Dad. There should have been so many more years of fun to come; he had
so much more joy to spread. But he joins the best of them, nestled
with the coolest of the cool; our Dad, a true legend.
Our beautiful Daddy was taken from us far too soon, but no-one
could have picked a more magical place in the world to go. Classic
Dad. The last few years have been amazing for him. Dora has said how
he died on such a high. Working with amazing people on huge film
projects, travelling the world, moving into a beautiful new home and
meeting his love, Dee.
My last conversation with Dad was on Christmas Eve, two days
before he died. As soon as his face popped up onto the screen, I knew
how happy he was to have Dee with him. You could see it in his eyes.
He looked relaxed and blissful. They opened our Christmas present and
he entertained Josephine by wearing a Christmas hat and fashioning a
Father Christmas beard from some tissue paper. We all shared so many
laughs. Dad talked about the Christmas Day BBQ on the beach they had
planned and got Ben's advice on cooking Christmas pudding on it. He
was so happy. So happy to have his love beside him, and we are so
grateful that he did. So grateful to Dee for making his last days
some of the best he ever had; that she loved him with all her heart
and that she filled his heart with so much happiness; that she was
there to hold his hand as he went. You will always be part of our
family Dee, as Dad intended, and we all love you, as he did, so much.
My Papa, my Daddio. It's hard to find the words to tell you how
much you meant to us, how much you will always mean to us. You are my
hero and I promise to make you proud every single day. To live life
to the fullest and to be happy. There should be no goodbyes today. I
know you'll always be with me, with us all, guiding us and protecting
us. And that someday we'll all be laughing together again. Until that
day, I love you, and I will miss you, forever and always.