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Adam Lee Potter - If you love someone, tell them today

PUBLISHED: 14:45 10 September 2014 | UPDATED: 14:45 10 September 2014

Archant

When someone close dies it is always hard, but hearing of their death when it is too late to tell them how much you loved them makes the news even tougher to bear

For my birthday, my wife bought me a paragliding lesson, a gift I hope prompted more by the fact that I’ve always yearned to fly than her wanting me to take a running jump off a cliff.

My arms are now littered with yellowing bruises that make me look like a heroin addict – I’m certainly attracting odd looks in Poundbury, less in Littlemoor - but I am elated all the same.

I believe - and tell my daughter - what my godmother always told me: have a go at everything.

Sally was truly fearless, a natural journalist whose joie de vivre was second only to her love of cricket, the film Porky’s and, alack, Shakespeare. But hey, two out of three ain’t bad: no one’s perfect.

She got me drunk for the first time, in my teens – on cold cans of Colt 45 smuggled into Lord’s.

We were ejected from the MCC after pinging peanut husks at the pompous, tutting buffoons in front of us and spent the next hour sobering up on a long walk down the Regent’s Canal before, still giggling, Withnail-esque tea and cake at the Waldorf.

Sally was a boy’s dream: she bought me fake, plastic sick for my seventh birthday, an exploding ashtray for my 11th, canned elephant meat for my 13th and – for my 18th – a bottle of gin. I adored her: she was simply uncontainable.

Even in her 70s, she’d race up down-escalators just for fun. When I last saw her, she was, as ever, electric and fun, lacing me with clever, fond talk of newspapers, cinema and claret.

When – grimly, at the funeral of another, dear family friend - I belatedly heard the news of her death, I was surreally bereft. The unkindness of it was utterly stunning.

Age is no deal: neither to the young, nor the old.

The good ones are all popping off now, one by one. But life is a queer thing. It always takes with one hand but it does give with the other.

Heading home, empty with sadness and shock, I held my seven-year-old daughter tight to my chest.

“Daddy,” she said, eyes wide, “you’re the best daddy in the whole wide world.”

Days later, in London, I took a weakening phone call. My car – parked up outside Wool station – had been banjaxed: hit by a drunk driver at 2am, who’d legged it, been arrested and promptly burst into tears.

The 0844 phone calls and ramifications – paperwork, police statements, rows with bean counters - have been endless and boring.

But all I’ve really been able to concentrate on this week is Sally. Because it’s people that matter, not things.

Things can be replaced. People cannot. I wish I had told her just how important she was to me. Monstrously, I can’t even recall telling her that I loved her. I only hope she knew.

My life is so much the more special for having known her. And – fond of it though I was – I can not say that of my written-off Audi A4.

So, don’t make my mistakes. If you love someone, tell them. Today.

--------------------------------------------------

Read on

Adam Lee-Potter on father and daughter bonding

Adam Lee-Potter on training for the annual four-mile Brownsea Island swim

Adam Lee-Potter on why to never underestimate the vanity of a middle-aged man

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