My father was a gardener and in the late 1940's and early 1950's, he worked in the gardens of a big house on the outskirts of Preston, Lancashire.
His duties were many and varied, with surplus fruit, vegetables and the occasional brace of pheasant, (the result of him having to accompany the men of the house on shooting parties), often forming part of his meagre weekly wage.
I was only a small child at the time, but dad would sit me on his knee when he returned home from work, and tell me about his day.
Dad and me
He was passionate about flowers, plants and shrubs and always tended them with loving care as if they were his own. The only part of his job which he hated was going out with the shooting parties, when he would have to disturb the pheasants as they flew into the open air to meet their fate.
To dad, all wildlife had a right to live, and I would ask him to tell me about "his robin", It was a story I'd heard many times before, but never tired of hearing over and over again.
Dad would explain that each day he sat in the potting shed to eat the cold lunch mum had prepared and packed up for him. As he took a bite if his sandwich on one particular cold winter's day, a little robin appeared in the doorway. Dad threw some crumbs in its direction, and although cautious at first, it edged nearer and nearer until the bread was in its reach.
As the days went by, the robin would return to share dad's lunch with him, and dad suddenly realised that it had only one leg, although this didn't seem to worry the little bird at all, as it hopped and flew around the shed, becoming tame and fearless.
The years passed, dad changed jobs and eventually retired, and of course, I grew up and the story of dad's robin was a distant memory, but one I never completely forgot.
Dad and me on my Wedding Day
In 1996 dad developed a blood clot in his left leg, gangrene set in and the leg had to be amputated. He was very ill and very frail, his life hung in the balance. Slowly he began to improve, but I was heartbroken by the loss of his leg.
However, if I was upset, dad certainly wasn't, as he tried to do things to the best of his ability. I was so proud of him, and it was then that my mind went back to those long ago childhood days when I'd ask dad to tell me about his one legged robin.
Dad on his 90th birthday
Dad lived for a further eight years, leaving us suddenly, early one morning at Easter, 2004, having just celebrated his 90th birthday.
Several days later, as I sat in a funeral car behind the hearse carrying dad's body to its final resting place in Preston Cemetery, the driver had to halt in order to check into the site office, and I couldn't believe my eyes when a robin flew in front of the hearse and settled down on a nearby bush and began to sing.