Dad

My dad didn’t come home from work today.
Two men in dark suits knocked our door,
and mum cried.

The newspapers said he was a hero.
They said he was brave, saved lives.
They said he should have a medal.

My teachers said he was a great man,
and that I should be proud of him.

I am proud.
But not for the reasons you think.
I don’t know your brave-heroic-medal-earner.

I’m proud because he was my dad.
Because he read me stories when I was little.
Because he put plasters on my scratches.
Because he tickled me till I screamed for mercy.
Because he never missed my school plays.
Because he let me wear make-up.
Because he never approved of my boyfriends.
Because he helped me with my homework.
Because he believed in me.
Because I always knew he loved me.

You can keep your brave hero.
I’ll keep my memories of the real man.

Grandad

My Grandad died.
I only saw him last week.
The doctor said he was getting better.

His newspaper is still open on the table,
and the air still smells of his pipe tobacco.
It’s as if he’s just gone out of the room.
He’ll be back soon.

He was supposed to watch me grow up,
and go to university;
be at my wedding;
be Great-Grandad to my children.
I hate him for leaving us.

I was supposed to visit him the day he died,
but I was too busy.
If I’d gone, maybe I could have saved him.

Dad keeps crying.
He’s never cried before.
I don’t know what to do.
Mum just stares into space,
not speaking.
I want to talk to my Grandad about it.
But I can’t.