"Today is my daughter Rebecca's 33rd birthday. Being the only girl child I have fathered, our relationship is and has always remained close.
My mother used to tell me when I was young that a dad is a son's first hero and his daughter's first love. As your dad, I can honestly say that there is quite no relationship like the one between a father and his only daughter. My love for your mother was initially fuelled by desire, and for your brothers' by ambition; but my love for you was always swayed by my need to protect you from all harm and to show you the respect that every woman deserves to receive from every man in her life.
Dear Rebecca, I wish you the happiest of birthdays and let us hope that you will soon find yourself back in work. It was lovely to see you last weekend. If I could but leave you one lasting gift, I would give you the ability to see yourself through my eyes as I have always seen you. Only then would you realise how special you are to me and how much I love you.
Ever since your days of infancy between the ages of 1-2 years, when your asthmatic condition necessitated me and your mother rushing you to the hospital in the middle of the night at least four or five times a year; ever since then, you have made me a lifelong hostage to your needs. And yet, your unconditional love is a price worthy of the highest ransom.
I recall with fond memory when you and your brother William were young. Whenever he strayed, I became stony-faced as I berated and chastised him for his misdemeanours; whereas you committing the same wrong as your brother would receive a much different and more lenient response. Whatever William's protests were and however just, he was expected to take his punishment like a man, but you..............all you had to do was smile lovingly in my direction and softly say, 'But Daddy.....' and my resolve would melt like hot butter in a frying pan!
When you were at school, you were always in the top form and there was a time when I thought that you would be the writer in the family. I wasn't at all surprised when you grew up into a beautiful woman, but I must admit that part of me was crushed to have lost my little girl. Whereas my sons remained my sons until they took a wife, whether you be married or single, you shall always remain my only daughter.
As fate has decreed, as you have not yet found a man worthy of you, I may not get the opportunity to one day walk you down the aisle as every dad would ideally want to do with his loving daughter. But whether that day ever comes when you find and marry a man you love, or continue to walk your own path, know that I walk beside you until the end of your days and that I will always watch over wherever you are and whatever you do; so put back that second biscuit in the tin before I slap your hand.......ever so gently.
Rebecca, you have always had a morbid interest in weird things. Crime and forensics come to mind, and you could easily have fitted into the role of forensic scientist as you have a nose for sussing things out like a snoop (sorry, I mean private detective). I can guarantee that even if six months have passed between you visiting our busy house that is over-crammed with my paintings and curiosities, where one new item is now displayed, or another disappeared or has simply been moved by the cleaner to a different place, you'll have sussed it out within half an hour of your arrival.
I was going through the drawers recently, attempting to tidy up, when I came across a 'Dear Dad' card that you sent me four years ago after I told you that I had terminal cancer. All my children initially took the news badly; all reacted differently, but I'll never forget hearing you cry down the phone non-stop once the thought of losing me sometime in the future entered your head. It was sad to tell all my children, but knowing how badly it would affect my only daughter broke my heart. I knew, shortly after, when you sent me a 'Dear Dad' card that you sincerely meant every word contained on the card:
Did I ever say thanks for all the toys you bought and mended,
the games we played, the walks and outings in the parks and the woods, and the way you always tried to cheer me up when I was down?
Did I ever say thanks for the sacrifices you made, so that I could become
involved in so many sharing and in interesting activities?
Did I ever say thanks for working so hard to provide for our family? Did I ever say thanks for having such faith in me and always being there whenever I needed you? Most of all, Dad, did I ever say thanks for caring? Dad, I love you.'
I know you do, Rebecca, and I love you too, along with your mother, brothers, all the Forde Family, friends and everyone who has ever had the pleasure of knowing you. Have a smashing day, daughter. Forever in my thoughts. Love Dad xxx" William Forde: February 2018