Today would have been my Dad’s 98th birthday. Unfortunately, he didn’t even get to see his 56th. He died on April 29, 1969, three months prior. I was twelve then. My mother was widowed at the age of thirty-nine.
My Dad was one of the thousands of British Home Children sent out to Canada between 1861 and 1938. He, two brothers and one sister came through The Orphan Homes of Scotland between 1922 and 1930.
Unlike so many others, he never hid the fact he was a Home Child and in later years, I’ve done much to honour the memory of those youngsters who came so long ago. I’ve had articles published on the subject, here and in the US. And most recently, a story specifically about him in Leopard Magazine in the UK. He was always modest and never one to toot his own horn so that one would make him uncomfortable, I think. But to me he was special and always will be.
In 2001, I was involved with an exhibit in Glasgow called The Golden Bridge because of my Home Children ties. When I found out my Dad’s story was going to be one of the featured exhibits, I was there.
I’ve honoured him and his memory in other ways, too. My oldest grandson was named after my father. My son’s middle name was my father’s. I’ve set my novels in the area of Scotland where he was born and have spent time in that area. When my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, we renewed our vows in the church at Quarriers Village (formerly The Orphan Homes of Scotland).
I know he’s watching over me. Sometimes, I feel him at my elbow when I’m writing… and with some of the material I’ve written likely quite mortified by it all. But still, I’m doing what I want to do and he’s happy for me for doing it.
As I do every year on Father’s Day and his birthday, I’ll be making the trek to the cemetery to spend some time with him.
Happy Birthday, Dad.