Spring has sprung in Paradise - sun is out, birds are singing and V's footy team has got a last minute reprieve and are into the final rounds.
When 'Salina's dad was first ill and moreso when he died, I felt very sad and alone. Although we were no longer together, while he was still him I knew there was another adult in the world who had the memory of our relationship, of how 'Salina was conceived in love and how special she would always be to another.
When he was ill, his memories were no longer reliable and his feelings mercurical - but I still had another adult who would regard her as central and wondrous.
When he died it was as if that fact had been stamped out. It was me and only me who could look at my darling, precious daughter and KNOW how important and special a person she was. It was me and only me who knew her whole history. It was me and only me who would ever be really right there for her as a parent.
I think that is partly why I never did go out to find another relationship - while I might find that person for me, it was still me and only me for her, and that was more central to my life.
I did have many wonderful male figures for her to know about Dads.
My brother and brother-in-law were wonderful in showing what good Dads were with her cousins - and were more than ready to step in whenever I had need for her to have a "Dad" around.
My father and I have had our ups and downs along the path, but he is a wonderful Dad and Grandpa - especially to his oldest grandchild.
(Her father's brothers are more of the "big goofy brother" brand of adult males - and she has met her paternal grandfather twice.)
When I first dipped my toes into the pool where possible relationships are offered it was really only to see what was in there. I was in the process of making many changes to my life and frankly, finding someone else was not the first priority.
It was a casual conversation on a forum and then with a friend that caused me to update my profile on a online dating site.
(Yes, I did have a profile - which was activated and quickly hidden several times over the past few years, each time when I thought "maybe" and then as quickly thought "maybe not".)
Perhaps this may have happened again except for the conversations that lead to the update - and except for the fact that, of the 7 immediate "hits", one was intriguing. The words "honesty" and "integrity" were used - two words I value very much.
I thought "why not" and the rest, they say, is history.
Although my relationship with V went fairly smoothly and was all smiles for me and he, 'Salina did not have as smooth a path.
For a start, her mother had NEVER entertained the idea of anything serious. And who was this clown with messy hair, anyway?
She was a seriously unhappy child at the time. I had moved her 500km, away from her home, away from some extended family, away from our social network - and away from her "best friend".
(Let me whisper to you, I consider the last point to be a point in favour of moving away in the first place, but that is another story.)
The new school "fit immediately in the groove with a new circle of friends" did not happen for her. She was aloof and careful of being untrue to her "best friend" - not a formula for clicking with the social set.
No longer were there cousins to see regularly, dinner parties with and babysitting by my friends. The playdates that peppered our lives were not as easy to find in the new home.
She was miserable. And there was one defining point to place all of her misery on - and his name was V.
Her one hope when I found a "boyfriend" was that she would get a sibling - immediately please. She actually asked that of him on their second meeting. Luckily he stuck around.
But he did grow on her. Despite his messy hair she was pleased as punch when he took a day off work to come early and see her in the school concert.
It wasn't easy for either of them. She had to give a little and he had to learn what little girls were all about.
And then (with our help) she learned to ride the bike alone - and her confidence grew.
She went into another class at school - and friends did come with this change.
Although he and she are not related, he is "hers" at family and social gatherings - not just "Mum's boyfriend" but "her V" - and he really is there for her.
He may not have the shared memories that 'Salina's dad should have held - but they are creating their own history in the building of a relationship.
And he is someone she can trust to ask things of, to build traditions with, to play baseball in the backyard or go cycling, to promise to go swimming, surfing or fishing together soon.
He is also someone who I have learned to trust with my most precious possession. I can duck off to the shops - and return not to fear (every single mother's fear) but to homework done, projects launched and laughing (generally) taking place.
So happy father's day - to my brother, my brother-in-law, my father - for being there when my daughter needed to know what a dad was for all those years.
And happy father's day V - thank you so much for being someone that 'Salina can hug and say "I love you" to.
And thank you for being the person that I can love myself, but not just for myself but also because you do KNOW how important and special a person 'Salina is.