Today is a bittersweet day. The older you get, the more of those you gain. There's something about the smell of the late summer/early autumn air around this time that never fails to remind me of being about five or six years old and heading off to a new school year.
And it reminds me that it's my Grandad's birthday. Except this year, he's not here to celebrate it. He wasn't last year either. I still struggle to reconcile this nearly fifteen months on. He was my rock. My mentor. Always there for me. Until he wasn't.
Those of you who know me well know that he filled the father-figure shoes in my life. Treating me as if I was his own child. We lived with my grandparents from my birth. When my mum started working, he retired and took over the childcare so I spent every summer holiday with him. We got up to all sorts of mischief.
When my mum moved out, I chose to stay with my grandparents to finish my secondary education so our bond became even tighter. I eventually left home but he was still always there for me, carefully guiding me. Despairing my lack of interest in finance and accounting. Sighing theatrically when I lost my keys or thought I'd forgotten to turn the iron off but always dutifully baling me out.
When my Grandma passed, we did more stuff together again. Travelling to New York and living the high life. We spoke twice a day, every day. He adored his new great-granddaughter. Doing all the daft things he did with me and my cousins when we were growing up despite his increasing frailty.
He met my now husband. Always greeting him with 'What are you doing here again?' or coaching him in how to corral me and my wayward door keys. Schooling him in awful jokes.
And then he was gone. His job done. His capacious heart finally failing.
We miss him every single day. I don't think a day passes without hubby or myself ending a sentence with 'Thanks, Roy!' after repeating one of his jokes or some of his words of wisdom. Hubby only knew him for around five years but it was like he'd known him a lifetime. Or if I didn't know better, I'd swear he's hanging around whispering in hubby's ear saying 'don't let her get away with that'
So last year, when his birthday arrived, I decided it was time for a change. Life is precious and I was busy wasting it doing what I thought was the right thing, yet feeling stuck and unable to move forwards.
It's taking time. Life has thrown us many more lemons these last eighteen months than we could turn into lemon drizzle cake. Or lemonade. But we're getting there.
I've seen Becca's Bouqcakes grow far beyond where I imagined it would be when I launched it on his birthday last year. And I have a tiny hope that this time next year it will have evolved again.
He always had faith in me that I could be a success and whilst he was my biggest supporter, he couldn't hang round enough to see me having the opportunity to do a bit of what I love. He used to tell me I could be so much more - if only I didn't squander so much time looking for my lost keys.
So this next year, I am going to resolve to lose my keys less and do more of what I love.
Thanks, Roy! (Grandad) xo