Father, son; rough and tumble; give and take. But how do you have a relationship when your father is dead – killed in action before you were two? When all you have are artifacts: his sword, epaulettes and cocked hat; a sepia photograph of a beaming toddler hoisted high on the shoulders of a young, good-looking man. Forever young.
When your family story has not comic anecdote, but the description of a weeping child, inexplicably inconsolable one long evening – the night they later found out was when his father died.
Make believe is childhood, and yours is that your father might be alive, perhaps lost his memory – and you search faces in crowds, in case.
How do you know your father when he has been transformed into a hero? How can you ever live up to him in the dull normality of peace? When you have your own children, how do you be a father, when you have never had one?
Always the gratitude for the greatest gift: his life for the peaceful world where you can safely raise your kids.
There were his medals presented by King George VI, lifeless in a glass case. And now the Arctic Star is being given to those who served in the Arctic in conditions beyond modern day imagination. Churchill understated it when he called the Arctic convoys “the worst journey in the world”.
You apply on his behalf, assemble the documents that prove his entitlement. And you wait months.
Then on Christmas Eve appropriately a star – the Arctic Star for your father. Finally a gift from you to him.