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Remembering My Papi

Papi & I on holiday in Spain, reading together. And I'm giving the middle finger, for some reason!

Dear Readers & Friends,

As some of you may know, I've been taking quite a long internet break following the passing of my dad (papi to me). This post is not me returning, as I think processing grief for me is easier offline, but I just had so many thoughts I wanted to share them. I've found writing has been a big source of comfort for me in this time, and in place of my daily phone calls with him I've been writing letters instead before bed, which have been a tremendously theraputic help as I feel in a way I can still speak to him.

For a little context, my father and I were extremely close. My family are not a very close-knit bunch, largely due to geography as we are spread all around the world! On top of that, as with every family, there have always been quite tough dynamics at play in my immediate family home and it was always my papi that I went to for emotional support. He made me feel incredibly loved and listened to - as you can tell by the daily phone calls! Most of the time I had nothing to say at all, especially due to covid lockdown. But we would just chat anyway, and he would always pause what he was doing and make the time to make me feel heard. He would advise me on all the typical dad things, career, money, contracts etc, and despite finding speaking emotionally quite difficult (his response when Steven asked him for his blessing for us to marry, he replied, 'well, I'm quite fond of her...'!), he would always allow me to cry, rant or word-vomit when needed.

He and I were also the most similar in the home growing up, and shared many of the same passions and interests. This made us very close, and I now hold these similarities as very special as things that we shared that were just for us. I'm sure my sister and he had similar things (competitive sport, for one!) but these were a few of the things he and I truly loved and that mirrored each other:

- The great outdoors! Oh, we loved long country walks with stops at bridges to play Pooh Sticks, camping, and generally just being in the wilderness

- Reading! More on this to come...

- Writing. He always wanted to write a book and enjoyed writing for fun. He bought me On Writing by Stephen King when I was at uni, with a note inside that read 'I'm not sure why, but I thought you may like this.' I read it, and it motivated me to write my first book, Enmity! Now I work at Stephen King's publishing house, so have really gone full circle thanks to papi

- Animals. This is one that my whole family are obsessed with, but his love of dogs was something we definitely shared, and I grew up in a house full of them! Last year, when our dog Betsy was sick after being spayed, he drove all the way to London to sit in our house and keep her company while we were at work so she wasn't sad

Papi at my London home with my little Betsy - reading, of course!

- Politics. We loved to argue about politics, and I think he was proud I did it at university. Because he was of the older, more traditional generation, I loved coming home and debating a manner of modern-day topics with him. When I was a teenager it was things like gay marriage and racism microagressions, and more recently it's been JK Rowlings transphobia and sex worker rights. He was always open to hearing my thoughts and would often agree with me, and we would get all fired up over wine discussing these things and usually ended up laughing

- Food! While my Papi and Steven bonded over their love of cooking, I myself am more of an eater... we loved going to pubs, restaurants, and sharing recipes and meals. And wine of course! 

On top of these things, I think I inherited much of my way of thinking from him. My argument-style (I NEVER, in 29 years, EVER heard him shout! Can't quite say the same for myself, but I do argue in the same way he does...), my empathy for others and my sentimentality. All the best parts! So to have him suddenly gone has been a huge shock and difficult to accept. 

He was also objectively impressive. He spoke many languages, and was fluent in english, portuguese and spanish. He had a masters degree and went to Oxford where he played rugby, boxed and rowed (he was in the Oxford Cambridge boat race!) He lived all around the world, from Colombia and Brazil to Chile and Miami, and met the most fantastical people he would tell us stories about. He was incredibly open and wanted to experience the most out of life.

Oxford Cambridge boat race - he's the first one facing the front!

And I just quickly wanted to talk about our love of reading, as this is, primarily, a book blog! I have a lot of fond memories.

As soon as I was able to, he would read to me before bed. He was always reading to me, his favourites were Winnie The Pooh, and Beatrix Potter. When I was around 7 or 8 he began reading me Harry Potter, and my obsession began! He read it to me every night, and after his pronouncing of Hermione as Her-Mee-Oh-Nee, I was shocked when the films came out to hear it properly pronounced!

By the time the final Harry Potter was released, I was reading it with my friends at a sleepover, but the first few books were a me-and-him memory. Inbetween, he introduced me to Enid Blyton, and after demolishing The Faraway Tree series I began to read The Famous Five (sniggering at the names by that age!).

One of the things by dad always tried to teach me was the value of money. I'm not anywhere as good as he was with my money, or savings in general, but as soon as I was 16 the pocket money ended and I was to get a job to buy things I wanted. My pocket money had been managed by a star-chart of chores pinned onto the fridge, and I would feverishly save up for the latest Beanie Baby must-have.

Holiday beach reads

So whenever we went shopping I would ask for things, because I wanted them. A new toy, a new top, 'papi can I get it?' And the answer was always, 'no, you don't need it. If you want it, save up your pocket money.' Until I discovered a weakness in his resolve: books. I quickly realised that whenever I asked for a book, he would buckle, and allow me one or two. So very quickly, whenever we had to make our trip to the local shopping centre, WHSmith became my favourite store, and he would leave me sitting by the children's book section to choose my books. It started with the Animal Farm series, then Jacqueline Wilson and The Sleepover Club series. As I got older, I moved onto the Charmed TV series books and things like A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Princess Diaries. 

I then discovered Philip Pullman and, still one of my all-time favourites, David Clement-Davies. After that, fantasy was what I reached for. 

When I got my job in publishing he was so proud of me, and I loved calling him and telling him what books I was working on and suggesting ones coming out which I thought he may enjoy. The last books I recommended him were The Midnight Library which he enjoyed and The Book Thief, which he said was 'the heaviest book he had ever read' and I think made him quite sad (though everyone says this, it's still a brilliant book!).

He was also my proof-reader for all of my books which I wrote, including the awful ones which I pretend never happened. He supported me in everything I did and reading connected us in a really special way, as it connects so many people. So I just wanted to share this with all of you as I continue to work through the loss of someone so very, very special to me.

Reading me Peter Rabbit


C x 


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