Dear Tom, Now that you’re older, if you’ve been reading these diary entries in chronological order, you may be relieved to discover that this is the final instalment, writes Ben Keenan.
This news however makes me very sad because 52 weeks ago, I began chronicling a journey that has changed my life completely, a journey on which you have been holding the map as my navigator and co-pilot, charting the direction these pieces have taken.
Every word I’ve written has been inspired by you and your remarkable life, which has given my own an incredible turbo boost since the moment you stopped being a dream I’ve had since I met your Mama and became a reality.
I must admit that I am slightly concerned because when you choose to read these pieces, which your incredible Grandparents have clipped and pasted into a delightful little book for you, you might be a little unhappy with me. You may, or may not feel as if your privacy has been violated and if you do, I understand completely and promise to increase your pocket money or buy you that thing that I recently said you couldn’t have. Forgive me though because since you were born, your beautiful face, indescribable smile and astonishing ability to bring out my happiest tears have chiseled these words out of the deepest part of my heart on a weekly basis. Words which are spoken from the heart are the easiest to share because they have the ability to mirror the experiences of millions of other New Mums and Dads, including those whose children now have children of their own.
You have given me more to be proud of than you will ever know and I imagine (as I must because I’m writing this long before you’ll read it) by now, your grasp of words and command of English and several other languages will be colossal, so feel free to chastise me in print should you see fit as revenge for this voyeuristic breach of your privacy.
Looking back, it’s hard for me to think of my life before I became your father. Your Mama and I always knew we would be parents one day and the first time I held you, I whispered something into your beautiful ear, (you were seven minutes old so you might not remember) a promise that I would be as good a dad to you as you already were a son to me and as I sat with you for the first time in ward F12 and gave you the first of many beard rashes, I felt like the luckiest man on planet Earth and have done every day since because of who you are and what you have given me.
Before I put a final ribbon on this Diary of a New Dad, please allow me a moment to say a few words of thanks. Firstly, to Barry Peters and the BFP for allowing these words to fill a corner of this fine newspaper. Secondly, to you, the readers, many of whom have shown me such warmth and kindness since it started that I have often been moved to tears wherever I’ve been approached. And finally, I’d like to thank you, Tom, for being my son and for filling my life with more wonder than I could express in a lifetime. There are things you do which make me proud, things which make me laugh and more things than I could list in a 100 years which make you the finest achievement of my life. Moments that we’ve shared which have influenced these words have rewired my heart and brain with such precision that I no longer operate as an individual, I am us and our family and have never known anything like the feeling of life affirmation I feel when we are together.
Wherever we go from here, we go hand in hand towards a brighter future with you leading the way for your family to follow. After all, I can’t think about Tomorrow without the most important three letters which start it.
All my love always, from your Dad