I have just spent the last three hours preparing your birthday presents. They are photos of the Grand Bazaar and a look across Sultan Ahmet Park in Fetih, Istanbul.
The photo of the park, shown first, was not an easy exercise. I had to wake up before sunrise, run a kilometre to the edge of the park, set-up the tripod, change the camera settings and then shoot.
A pack of semi-wild dogs were running around madly and my only companion in the whole park was a Japanese photographer about 300 metres away.
My HDR photography blending skills are much better than when you saw me trying so hard at the hospital but failing so brilliantly. However, I still seem to pick up the usual defects although Photoshop does help somewhat.
Fed my hungry and drooling mouth, and provided that first bright red toy. Fetched me from school, took me home to a healthy meal and warm cosy bed. We had little to begin but worked our way up.
You enriched my relationships with others and kept me on the straight and narrow at times, but allowed me to learn much needed hard lessons to grow. You led by example and so many things suffered by you were later encountered by me, your loving son; I was thus armed and ready to face them. My beautiful mother had shown me how: she had suffered for me.
When death for you was a certainty, you gave the final lesson of thousands whilst on this earth. You never ever gave up but did rest at times. You confounded your critics and disarmed them completely. You looked death in the eyes with strength and challenged it.
Then, knowing for sure that the time had come, you embraced death with great confidence and surety. If any person has ever departed this world in such an elegant and composed manner, then it is you. The single tear you shed before your final breath was surely the frustration that you had not done just that little bit more to help the many people you had always so unselfishly served; for you truly lived your life fully in the last few years and given so much of yourself.
You used your abilities so well that it was often to your detriment. That tear no doubt also carried the worry that your loved ones would not cope fully without you being there.
However, you certainly ensured in the last months that your son at least was in safe hands.
To say you are one in a million is an injustice; you are truly unique and a guiding beacon of hope and unconditional love to all living beings.
I have taken your last advice, and I speak to you more now than before. That quiet place at the bottom of the garden, as you said it would be, is serene and a wonderful place for us to catch-up and laugh about the days gone by. This will always be ours and will never weaken or diminish.
You have taught and prepared your son so well, and he will keep on passing your love and wisdom around.
You were and always are right!
Happy birthday, your loving son, always” ~ Andy