Colour Me Father
A Letter To My Son, Raffini
I want to talk to you about a smile - your smile. I saw it blaze across your face on August 21st 2016 at around three o clock in the afternoon. Yes, at your first birthday party. Of course, that day, at just one year old, you had no idea what was occurring.
All you knew - I think - was that your home was fuller than usual and - much to your delight - there were balloons on the stairs and bunting on the bookshelves allowing monkeys and elephants to smile and wave at you.
Maybe you had noted the amount of food your fab aunties and uncles had brought from the south. Maybe you had your eye on your presents that existed in bags and parcels out in the hallway. Maybe. Don’t think so.
I do know this, though.
When your birthday cake was brought into the room it gave me a memory, an image, I will never forget. This is what happened. Your mother held you in her arms as the cake was placed on the table and the candle was lit. And then everyone sang you Happy Birthday. You had your back to them. You were staring at the cake. I think you were amused by this flurry of activity but still not connected. And then it happened.
Everyone applauded. Which is when you turned back to look at everyone and then gave them a smile that seemed to be saying - this is for me, all for me? Thank you so much. And – most importantly – that smile seemed to say isn’t life just wonderful?
I am now going to talk to you about pigeons. You love them. Every time we are out, and you spot one, your arm shoots out. There! There!
Push the pram towards one and we get this close - and then, of course, it flaps, gets worried and flies away. And you love to watch that bird soar out of view. You love it. It thrills you.
Then we see another and off we go, chasing pigeons but never grasping one.
Raffini, when I saw that smile on your face, I realised that my biggest job in life right now, is both simple and monumental – to keep you believing without a moment's hesitation in your soul, that life is indeed deeply wonderful. And to do that I must make sure your dreams never act like those pigeons.
After Mass the other day, I spoke with Sister Patricia. She always asks me how you are.
‘How is the heir apparent and King to the throne?’ she asks in that lovely manner of hers.
‘You can give him everything you never had as a child,’ Sister Patricia tells me. ‘And remember - be faithful to life.’
What a lovely phrase. Be faithful to life. I have thought about it all week and I think she means never throw away what God gives you. And what God gave you was that smile.