I was 24 years old and living in London when my father suddenly fell ill. The emergency flight home was possibly the most traumatic 12 hours of my life. I was just reaching the age where I could appreciate how much I could learn from my parents and that perhaps I didn’t know everything. I couldn’t fathom life without him, but by the time I got home I only had a few days with him before he passed away.

As a songwriter, I took my pain to my beloved piano and journal. What surprised me most was that even in the depths of my grief and loss, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for how he had lived his life and the example he had been for me. He was a man who faced each day with a twinkle in his eye and had the ability to make even the most mundane task a challenge....

Dad_letter_smlA  few months after his death I was sorting through some of my old letters and among them I found a letter he had written me when I was a very angry teenager. I remember finding it left on my pillow after a particularly bad argument with my parents where I felt no-one understood how hard my life was.

Eight years later I sat and read the letter he had written as a father trying to hear his daughter’s pain. What stood out for me in his words was that my attitude was shaping the experience I was having. He wrote about how in his own life he had had to learn that if life gave him lemons he had the choice to make lemonade. Ever since reading that letter again I have carried his advice with me – and often in a crisis I try to change the way I am looking at things. It is what I, as his daughter, try to take forward with me and it has inspired the way I approach my music and life. This is the song my father’s words gave me and I celebrate his memory every time I sing it.

Take life in your hands, and make the most of it.

Learn to make a plan, and never forget.

To keep people close, take one day at a time.

Love so it shows - know the magic of your mind.

Guide where you once fell, share lessons you have learned.

Have stories to tell, leave no stone unturned.

Live life with nature’s tools - speak other people’s tongues.

Don’t stick to stupid rules - do as you would have done.

These are the lessons he taught to me - to live this life and always believe.

That even if he’s not here to see – he lives forever in me.