“Why dost thou weep in thy gentle sleep?
Awake! Thy father does thee keep.”

“The Land of Dreams” – William Blake

Preface to the book

Every life knows its difficult moments. One of mine was on 23rd of October 2001, when the doctors in the hospital told me that my mother had an inoperable form of cancer. On my way back home and during the weeks that followed, I spent a lot of time trying to handle the prospect of my mother dying. It was an emotional time, filled with feelings of sadness, anger and despair.

The hardest part was thinking about how my future would be – a future without my mum. That is why I created The Mother’s Book, and now The Father’s Book. I didn’t want the opportunity to pass to ask my parents all the questions that matter most – the questions that we never find the time to ask.

The world is full of special fathers. And it seems to me that everyone has moving, special memories of their fathers and funny, delightful stories. Stories about fathers who would rather demonstrate their love for their children by repairing a flat tyre than by sitting down to talk. About fathers who were good enough to wait round the corner when they collected their children from a party, so they wouldn’t lose face. And about fathers who were there for their children as a shoulder to cry on when they broke up with their first love and thought the world would end. But sometimes men need a helping hand in telling you how they feel, and this is where The Father’s Book will help.

It is a book born of my realisation of the truth in the saying: “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. And of how precious time is and how little of it we dedicate to the people who matter most. I hope The Father’s Book will help you to connect and share; that it will not only bring happiness as you discover the little things you never knew about each other, but will also create bonds between you, and bring back memories long-forgotten.

Elma Van Vliet

How old are you as you fill this in?

I am 66 years old. I started filling this in on 12th May, 2020.

How old am I as you fill this in?

Abigail is 41 years old. She was born on 24th February, 1979. Her younger sister Naomi is 39 years old. She was born on 13th March, 1981.