Today is a shiny shoe day. It is oldest son’s last day at school before he starts his study leave and his GCSE exams.
In celebration of their time at secondary school there was a special leavers’ assembly this morning. Each pupil was asked to attend wearing “business dress” instead of school uniform, which meant I had to buy a shirt and smart trousers for my young man.
We went shopping the other week and he chose a pale blue shirt from the sale rail. It was only when I got home I realised it was practically a replica of one Andrew used to have.
Last night I polished three pairs of shoes – well if I was making an effort with oldest son’s shoes I decided I would do youngest son’s and mine too.
“You should be doing this.” I said to oldest son as I knelt on the floor, spread out newspaper in front of me, brush and polish in hand. “Do you know how to clean shoes?”
“You just put the polish on and rub it off.”
That’s OK then at least he has some rudimentary knowledge for future reference. Maybe I should have made him do it but there is something satisfying about buffing up the leather and achieving a shine.
I remember one teacher from my school days who gave us a shoe inspection every day. We rubbed our shoes on the backs of our calves if we’d forgotten to give them a proper polish. It seems to be a dying art these days.
It was my dad who taught me how to clean my shoes but oldest son no longer has a dad to teach him such things.
“Do you miss your dad? Do you wish he was here?”
Stupid questions I know but I had to ask and it makes me cry.
“I don’t think about it.” His emotions are still shut away in a box marked keep out, I dread the day the lid flies open.
Then I remembered he needed a tie. I don’t know why but I have kept Andrew’s small collection even though he only wore them under duress.
Oldest son picked the black one. Andrew had bought it for a black tie ball we had been to with work, a fabulous glittering evening in a marquee at a castle in Scotland.
“I think Black Tie really means a bow tie.” I told Andrew back then.
“So – it’s black and it’s a tie!” was his retort.
“That’s a bit of a funeral tie.” I said to oldest son this morning.
“Do you know how to tie a tie?”
“It’s just a knot!”
Just like shining my shoes I remember wearing a school tie once, so I did it up on me, loosened the neck, slipped it over my head and around oldest son’s neck.
It was always destined to be a memorable moment, it really should have been a father and son moment, or perhaps I really do watch too many sentimental movies.
So there I was standing by the AGA straightening my son’s tie when Chris Evans on Radio 2 played the worst or maybe even the best song possible.
"Have I Told You Lately" by Van Morrison – now I am welling up again, this was one of the funeral songs, as far as I know the last song Andrew ever listened to on his iPod.
Oldest son wouldn’t make eye contact, the emotional box stayed shut tight and actually if he had have looked at me I would have totally crumbled into a puddle on the floor.
It’s just not fair, it’s not me I feel sorry for but for the boys, they have had so much stolen from them. Precious moment and memories that can now never happen.
But maybe hearing that special song lets me know Andrew is still watching over us, reminding me he still loves us and despite everything I am still doing OK at this single parenting business.