It is that time of year when the diary reminds me to arrange birthday flowers for the daughter who has no father.
I don’t need the diary, years of hearing No.1 daughter tell people that her birthday was in “epsember” are etched in my memory. At the receiving end this gesture will be sneered at and immediately binned. The card will remain unopened and the thoughts will remain unnoticed.
The thing is that this is not just a throwaway gift, not some routine token, it actually means a lot… well to me at least.
I know nothing of flowers but I still labour over the selection of a bouquet that is bright and colourful to reflect the smile that I remember so fondly. As the years pass I add touches of deeper colours to show that I know that my little girl is maturing and is a woman now.
The card, such a small thing, will be printed and placed in an envelope with the flowers. The card will never see the light of day between being sealed and hitting the recycling centre. The harsh truth is that I could leave it blank but perhaps this is much an exercise for me as for my angel.
The words are not written once but several times, every year and twice a year I work studiously at the most important thing that I ever write. When I was writing legal papers they had less iterations than this card, this is important and it has to be right.
No burden can be presented, hinted at or inferred from the words. There can be no reference to any emotion other than my undying love. It is written one way and then discarded as too cloying, too gushing. Rewritten it sounds scripted, automated and is discarded again. After several drafts, over a couple of days, I settle on this years words.
After rereading the next day I check the pagination, is that comma correct or does it skew the sentence in an unintended manner? Are the line breaks in the correct place? And finally a check again to ensure that nothing can be misread, nothing is open to interpretation and nothing can be challenged as some dark malevolence.
Satisfied that the small card conveys open and honest love and nothing more I save the message. I sit back and enjoy my memories for a moment before pulling up my messages and adding one more to the unanswered list in my ‘conversation’ with No.1 son.
With my tasks completed it is back to work, mortgages to pay don’t you know. Always the silent provider, stoic and resolute it is what we do as Fathers regardless of the cold emptiness we carry.