I can very clearly remember how much I loved playing dress up when I was a little girl. I had a little costume trunk in my bedroom that was full of old dresses, shoes, and a bunch of costume jewellery and accessories that I just loved to death. My favourite piece in the trunk was a white lace dress that my parents bought for me for some special event. I refused to take it off for days after, to the point where my parents simply gave up the idea of saving it for another special day, opting instead to let me put it in that battered old trunk. That white lace dress came to represent my wedding dress, a dress I would never have had if it were not for my dad’s life insurance policy.
I wasn’t a spoiled kid, much as that story may make it seem, but my parents did everything they could to ensure that I had a happy childhood. They succeeded in that, with that white dress playing a big part in my early years. I remember seeing the photos from my parents wedding day, and I started to imagine that little white dress as my wedding gown. My dad would often come and play along, pretending to give me away as I walked down the imaginary aisle with my favourite teddy bear. I took it for granted that he would be there when the real day finally came along, but fate didn’t quite see it the same way.
My dad started to experience bouts of ill health when I was in my late teens. Doctors couldn’t really pinpoint anything as the root cause, but it all became apparent a few years later when he was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. By that time I was in my 20’s, engaged, and about to be married in a few months. I watched my father slowly deteriorate, but never once saw him fail to smile when I walked in the room. It broke my heart when he told me that he was pretty sure that he wasn’t going to be able to walk me down the aisle, but that he would make sure he was there in some small way.
When he passed, he left each member of the family an individual letter, telling us how much he loved us, and what he wanted for us all. In my letter he asked that I take some of the money left behind in his life insurance and use it to try and buy a dress like the one I used to wear back when I was a kid. He said it would be easier to imagine him by my side if the dress was just like that one from years gone by. That is exactly what I did, and as I walked down the aisle, I swear I felt him there. The tears I cried were not of regret or sorrow, but of joy, because I knew he had done all he could to be by my side. I am expecting a child of my own now, and I want him or her to have the same type of childhood that I did. I also want to be sure that they never have to worry about a thing should I or my husband become ill, which is why a life insurance policy was at the top of our to do list after we got married. My dad taught me many things over the years, but none more memorable than how important it is to look after your family, even when you can’t be around to do so.