You have to feel for my late mother – three daughters and we were all Daddy’s Girls! So I could appreciate why her first words to me were always: “How’s my son-in-law?” She doted on my beloved and the feelings were reciprocated. But to return to the point of today’s post, Father’s Day. A day which always conjures up fond memories of my wonderfully kind father, our happy times together and, more importantly, his many pearls of wisdom.
My two sisters and I spent an unexpectedly lovely Father’s Day with him in 2013. We didn’t realise it was to be our last. My youngest sister had made an unexpected trip to France with him to join my other sister and us for a week in the sunshine. Unlike many of our previous Father’s Day lunches, this was decidedly low-key. My Dad and his three girls ate a light lunch I’d prepared and discussed what he was now going to do with his time. My mother had died in early January and, after getting her affairs in order, my dad was looking forward to what he hoped might be a few years of doing all the things he’d put on hold to care for her. He had already planned a cruise to St Petersburg and the Baltic States with dear friends in August, while I was hoping he’d come and spend the more inclement British months with us on the Cote d’Azur.
Over lunch, we also reflected on earlier Father’s Days when we’d gathered together for a celebratory lunch, often at a hotel in the Cotswolds, Oxford or at Le Manoir. Luncheon out en famille and not a gift was always my father’s preference. Something we’d been denied in recent years as my mother’s condition had worsened, so it was a real treat to have this unexpected opportunity to share Father’s Day with him.
Mid-week I drove him down the coast past Saint Tropez, to Cavaliere-sur-Mer, where we’d spent our first foreign family holiday when I was only four years old. Unsurprisingly, given it was so long ago, the place was unrecognisable but we found a lovely Relais & Chateau, Tuscan-style hotel on the seafront where we enjoyed a light, leisurely lunch watching the sunshine dance on the water and chatting about anything and everything. Sunday we enjoyed lunch together with my beloved, a cosy threesome at our favourite local restaurant which has breathtaking views of the countryside, a neighbouring walled village and the sea. Whenever we eat at that restaurant, we think back on that lovely light-filled luncheon which seemed so full of promise.
Often when we eat at a new restaurant, we’ll say to one another “You know who’d have liked this…..” We are of course referring to my father who also instilled in me his love of dining out. But he wasn’t just my father. My beloved lost his father when he was 22 years old and he’d become very close to mine, after all he’d been his father-in-law for over 35 years. So we both miss him and never more on Father’s Day.
Header image taken in Mougins in 2009 with my late parents on the left and dear family friends on the right.