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A celebration but also goodbye

So as I finish my zine on my Dad, I thought I would include some pictures of me and my Dad when I was little. Here he is cuddling me in the House in the Big Woods, and here we are getting fish on the Banks of Plum Creek.

Of course, as you must realise, it isn’t ACTUALLY me.

They are from the series Little House on the Prairies by Laura Ingalls Wilder. (I’m not talking about the TV series but the Puffin books published in 1968). The illustrator was Garth Williams.

As a child between the ages of 6 to 11, my contact with my real dad was virtually nil. A few photos, one holiday. He was living in North America at the time. I missed him terribly and as a way of coping with that, I identified with Laura and her Pa from those books. Rereading the books as an adult, I am quite surprised at what really tough times they experienced, even life threatening, which I didn’t recognise as a child. Grindingly difficult, but the Pa in the books was a constant, reliable person, he handled the bad stuff as best he could, cheered them up by playing the fiddle, was calm and resourceful, he was GREAT!

Working on my zine has helped me come to terms with the reality of my actual Dad and I have to put away the childhood idealised versions that only existed in my imagination. So I am saying thank you but goodbye to Pa too. He kept me going as a little girl and gave me an alternative role model for a really great father figure. I’m glad I had the books as a child, they were a source of comfort and it’s nice rereading them, but that idealised Pa is dead and gone now, a warm memory.

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