I was very much a Daddies girl growing up. I have two brothers, but neither of them really took a shine to tinkering in the garage with motorbikes like I did. I cherish those moments, the pair of us, in our matching bandanas, working away. By the time I was 10 years old I had become an expert at passing spanners and rags.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household that was gender-fair. If boys wanted to do ballet, they would have done ballet. If I wanted to play rugby and tinker with bikes, I could do just that! I like to think that growing up in this environment had a lot to do with the soldier I became and the officer I am training to be today.
But back to the bikes! From a young age I was desperate to ride pillion on my Dad's Harley Davidson, but my Dad had a rule! Nobody was allowed on the bike until they were big enough to touch the foot pegs. Well, every week I was in that garage, stretching my legs down to see if they would reach the pegs. This went on for many years!
Until one day, Dad decided I was FINALLY big enough to go for a ride. This was music to my little ears! We had such a great trip out on the bike that day. He took me to go and get my ears pierced in a little tattoo and piercing shop where he knew the owner. I remember the owner of the shop asking, 'Is that your little girl Kev?', to which he replied, 'Yes, that's my girl'.
And I was, very much his girl. I remember breaking my arm when I was about 10 years old. The surgeon needed to weigh me for surgery, but I would not be separated from my Dad. To that end, the surgeon had to weigh my Dad (holding me), and then deduct Dad's weight from that figure. I felt safe in his arms. I felt that nothing could hurt me there.
After his brain injury, my Dad and I developed a very special relationship and in recent years we had become very close. I would visit as often as my military career would allow and we would often sit for a good few hours and put the world to right. I will miss his emails dearly, full of advice. I know how proud he was of me, because he told me so often. I received many letters whilst serving away in Afghanistan, but my favourites were those from Claire, where she would write little notes that my Dad had typed out on his specialised computer. Notes like, 'Keep your head down babe, I love you'.
I have no doubt that I will see you again Dad. I will see you in the eyes of your Grandchild, Finley. I will hear you in the memories that are stored in our hearts and that will be told and retold and remain vibrant for eternity. I will hear you every time I hear the familiar roar of a Harley Davidson or the skid of a motorbike wheel. I will hear you every time I turn the radio on and hear Bob Segar, ZZ Top, The Rolling Stones or The Eagles. Ride safely up there big man!