6 years since the last time we spoke and soon I’ll be turning 22. Funny how time flies, right? Remember when I was just a little girl and I was having nightmares? I’d wake you and Mum up, and you’d bring me water and turn on the TV so I could go back to sleep easier. You would tell me that tomorrow morning everything would be fine, and you would smile at me. You helped me collect empty cigarette packs and build robots and big houses, and I always cried because my robot never had a perfect round head. You told me the robot would grow up and have a perfect head, just to make me smile again.
You also taught me how to sing. We sang at family gatherings and to all the drunken men who would come to Granddad’s little pub. The way you played your accordion! And our song – ‘ Esti ca floarea alba de salcam’ – remember? Grandma would cry and cry listening to us and everyone would make fun of her, bless her. The sound of accordion still gives me shivers. Nowadays it’s sat somewhere in the storage room, full of dust and great memories.
God, you loved life – good wine, smoking cigarettes with a passion, singing all the time and making people happy with your music, your optimism and your big smile. I’m sure you don’t remember (mum definitely does though), but once you came home drunk and you brought mum a great bunch of flowers and you sang on your knees ‘Nu ma dojeni, nevasta!” while I was clapping and cheering. Mum was supposed to be angry, but she loved it. Second day not so much when she realised the flowers were from our garden ( she’s still as obsessed with that garden as ever- she turned it into a small piece of heaven)
Later on, I moved away from home to attend secondary school in the town nearby. You would call me every single day to ask if I have enough pocket money and if I have eaten, and once home, you would always slip some more coins behind mum’s back ‘just in case you find something nice to buy’. Sometimes I would get bad marks and to make things better you would always tell the story of how you failed psychology for missing the classes and joining the boys in the park for a cigarette and a cheeky beer. You would always say that I’m going to have a great future despite that bad mark and you would make me smile. You believed in all my dreams.
And you wanted me to go to England to improve my English and to go see the world, remember? You were always telling me about your experience in Bulgaria, how Granddad could never afford to send you on trips and how life ‘got in the way’ and you never got the chance to see the world. I’m in Portugal at the moment and I’m so happy, Daddy! I wish I could call you and talk for hours about University, Porto wine , Portuguese men’s moustaches (no one could ever pull off a moustache as good as you did, just to be clear), about the awesome people I’ve met and the amazing places I’ve seen. I would also tell you all about a certain someone I met here and, embarrassed, I would quickly change the subject by asking you to put the phone down as it would be expensive and you would say that it doesn’t matter and that “we’ll find the money to pay for it even if I’ll have to sell your mother”. You always wanted to put the world at my feet.
This is not a sad letter. These are only a few words to say thank you to the person who taught me that messing things up once in a while doesn’t mean you’re a failure and regardless how hard things get sometimes, you just have to keep smiling and find the good side of things. My dad also showed me that being lame and emotional and romantic is not necessarily a bad thing and that as long it doesn’t hurt anyone, I should never apologize for being happy.
“Don’t cry, baby girl! Always smile when you think of me” were your last words to me. Thank you for shaping me into the person I am today!
I hope you’re proud of me, tata!