Follow me on Twitter: @janemcintyre12



I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Monday 8 December 2014

First Christmas without you...

Musical curve-ball on the South Bank
First Christmas without a loved one? Here were my thoughts a few months after Dad died. It does get a bit easier, with time. But the key's thinking about the memories and real gifts loved ones leave you. Anyway....five years on...hope this helps.

I knew I`d hear it sooner or later.

And there it was. Pumping out of a crackly speaker from one of the festive stalls on the South Bank in London. "Have yourself a merry little Christmas"--Dad`s favourite song. It's seven months since he died; and so we're heading fast towards the first Christmas without him. He used to shed a tear when he heard it. And even though Alzheimer's caught him; changed him; challenged him to remember even his daughters' names, he'd still smile when he recognised that tune.

Still; hearing it was a bit of a punch in the heart, and so, at lunchtime, in the middle of the Millennium Bridge, I found myself in tears. Luckily, the keen winter wind was leaving everyone with smarting eyes and runny noses.... so I guess I got away with it.

But maybe you've felt it too? The first anniversary, birthday, New Year celebration without someone you've loved so much...someone who's been such a central part of your life? I've found myself smiling at cards he might have liked; touching soft, warm jumpers that would have kept him cosy.

High in the Himalayas
I decided I could wallow in sadness, linger longer over my loss this Christmas, think about gifts unexchanged. Or focus on the gifts that will always be there. We've just cleared his house, so there are plenty of reminders. Detailed travel itineraries for royal trips to Tonga, San Francisco,the Congo, Mustique,Tasmania, Nepal. Just the mention of those faraway places excited me as a small child; filled me with wonder about what he'd find. And so my hunger for travel was born.

Then there are books...everywhere. Boxes and boxes have gone to charities across Kent. Yet there are still piles of the ones I couldn't part with on the stairs, under tables, on top of groaning bookshelves. The classics. More
travel. Grammar. Quotations. And poetry. Wordsworth, Masefield, a collection of Burns with a lock of blonde hair between two pages. The joy of learning, and, for the young man who'd left school and gone down the mines at 14, a hunger to read; nurtured as soon as my sister and I could turn a page. Another gift forever. Letters talk of his kindness; his selflessness. Press cuttings report his bravery at 24. More valuable traits to treasure.
Harrow and Wealdstone hero

Oh.....and the hats. How we laughed as Dad--the 'inconspicuous' royalty protection officer in a top hat-- made it to the middle of the shot on a Telegraph front page. And he laughed at himself too--always a good thing to be able to do. But was fiercely proud of his job, and its responsibilities. Check. And check.

Top hat and gun. *Blending in*

Anyway, just as I'd got over the London tears, the song came galloping back last night, at a Christmas concert. Thoughts of Dad filled my head. They insisted we all joined in. And so I sang along.....smiling, this time, at sweet memories of a big, strong, brave man, and the incredibly precious gifts he left us with. Including, as I fumbled for a 'just in case' tissue,being in touch with your 'softie' side. Which was OK for him. And is OK for his daughters :)

Happy Christmas xx
Travelling: the next generation. Avec hat...

PS: And yep; I got to Tonga. And San Francisco. And more. Read about life, four years later, on

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  1. Nicely written blog young lady. In some traditions one is "allowed" to grieve for a year, so that all annual events 1/2
    are passed & reviewed for the future with the significance of the involvement of the deceased, holding onto the good!
A Very touching read.We have our first year Anniversary tomorrow. X

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aah that's lovely x Onwards with great memories

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<3 jane="" p="" said="" well="" xx="">

you have done him justice xx

Beautifully written. And will chime with so many.

For obvious reasons I have not read it...yet

It may be hormones or incipient cold but you’ve just made me cry. And I mean that in the nicest possible way! *hugs*


  1. What a lovely tribute. I'm so sorry for your loss. I do hope you will find some small comfort, over the holidays, from remembering all those lovely times. I wish you peace and happiness this Christmas. If you ever need a chat, please don't hesitate to tweet. *Hugs*