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Stars & my Pa

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(Mis) adventures in Parenthood, Little League & moving your family 5,500 miles from London to California.

Stars & my Pa

Laura Bonnell

I debated whether to write this post, but I'd promised myself an open and honest commentary on my Muklet journey, so here we go!

A year ago life suddenly took an unexpected turn. I'd had a phone call from Mum that she'd had some difficult nights with Dad. He'd been acting particularly out of character (he could be a tough customer at the best of times shall we say?), and he'd had some very sleepless nights. He'd been sent for tests which revealed some sort of infection, but then after he'd suddenly got worse he was rushed to hospital. 

My Dad had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis some 25 years earlier. Both my parents used to be teachers, my Dad at Comprehensive, my Mum at Primary School. Over the years my Dad had Headed up English, French and IT. My Dad's health and level of mobility had gradually deteriorated over the years, and eventually led to him changing careers. He decided to set up his own business managing training and learning in the Education sector. To be honest my Dad's business had always been a bit like remembering what Chandler Bing does for a living - I could never quite fathom the complexities of the projects he undertook! But I do know that he was a highly intelligent man, an extremely hard working man with a passion for the field of education. In his later years he completed a Masters, and shortly after a PHD. When he wasn't catching up on the latest episode of 'Endevour' my Dad would often be found behind the computer, toiling away on his latest project.

My Dad was a complex man, one that my mum supported and cared for tirelessly and without complaint. He was a proud and stubborn man, woe betide any fellow that dare to under perform to his expectations! I think he may actually have made a hobby out of tormenting poor unwitting Sales people for example. He would pretty much put them to test in their chosen field of selling, seeing if their knowledge could actually outperform that of my Dads! If they managed to actually accomplish this he would deem them worthy of a sale, and part with his precious money!

Dad had always installed a strong ethic in me that money was to be earned and not gifted freely. I often joked he was true to his Scottish heritage, and had short arms and deep pockets! As a child I had to earn every penny of my pocket money. My Dad helped me devise a costing sheet for chores, so I could for example earn 50p per room for vacuuming! 

Fortunately I've always actually enjoyed working. Well earned money spent on a new outfit just feels better to me than necessarily being given it (although I wouldn't say no to a free splurge in Cos right now!) It's like how a good dinner tastes so much better after a long walk through the countryside, a well earned reward. 

So, back to last year, when Dad had been admitted to hospital. It was a few days later we got the devastating news that they'd discovered he had Pancreatic Cancer, and it had spread to his Liver. Unfortunately it was too far advanced, and there was little they could do apart from make him comfortable. The cancer related toxins had caused Dad to become delirious, and he would only be conscious for very short periods of time. He'd then forget what had been said just a moment earlier. I think that was one of the hardest things to deal with for me. I never got the chance to ask Dad what he wanted me to do and what I could do for him, but as one good friend told me I didn't need him to verbalise it. I knew my Dad, and could therefore could figure out the answers. 

It happened fast. It was 2 weeks after he was admitted to hospital that Dad died. Just like that, that horrid Cancer word that had previously only been something heard of on charity adverts on TV, and effected distant relatives of friends had now touched our lives. 

It was then, only a few weeks later my wonderful place of work decided they'd make me redundant! I'll be honest, I actually lost a bit of faith in humanity that day. I just couldn't wrap my head around how that was ok? How could people do that to someone who had just gone through the most painful experience in their life, with a clear conscience? May be if I had done something terribly wrong I could begin to understand the logic, but being a passionate and diligent employee, I just didn't get it. Well. I guess may be I did. I'd worked enough years in the industry to understand it's not necessarily what you know, it's who you know, and I guess in this case, the 'what you know' was moved aside to make room for the 'who you know'. 

Being the stubborn old mule I am though, I decided to throw my shoulders back, and throw my energy and passion into projects that would appreciate and reward me. Frankly if a company thought it was ok to take away someone's job right before Christmas after they had just lost their Dad, it probably wasn't a company I would or should want to work for anyway.

If my Dad was here he would probably have said to me "£@#k them Laura, you don't need them, you can do much better". So, that's what I'm going to do Dad, I'm going to do better.

If last year taught me anything, it's that life is short, it's too short. So, what was I waiting for? If I'd always wanted to design for my own brand why wait a moment longer?

So, I set about planning my brand concept and name. Once I had the name, I needed the logo. My brother had suggested to me to add the star above the 'e'. The idea fitted perfectly. We'd actually told the boys that Granddad had now gone up to the sky, and turned into a star so he could watch over us. I like to think the star represents our 'guardian Dad angel' keeping an eye on us! 

We have a thing for Robins in our family. We originally liked to think it represented my Grandad (my Mums Dad) watching over us as one would often appear at poignant times in our lives. Now when we see one we think perhaps it's Dad. This week my robin has been sitting on the door handle of the office pod! I think maybe this particular Robin might be Dad paying us a visit! I think he may be putting my knowledge of selling muklet to the test! I hear you Dad, yes I'll improve my stock holding to sales ratio, yes I'll negotiate more with my suppliers, but I also know hopefully you're proud of me finally running my own business like you always said I should, and I know your star is watching over your muklets!

Dr Ian Robert Gilchrist 1949 - 2014, Husband, Father, Grandad, tormentor of customer service call centres the world over! 

Dr Ian Robert Gilchrist 1949 - 2014, Husband, Father, Grandad, tormentor of customer service call centres the world over!