Tomorrow is the 17th anniversary of my Dad passing away.
It’s also the 1st anniversary of my Mum & Dad both being gone.
I suspect this will mean the day will have a different effect on me from previous years.
I’ve written previously how it took me 10 years to come to terms with my Dad passing.
And how an event on the 10th anniversary, changed everything for me.
But tomorrow will be different.
I don’t know if that will be in a good or bad way, but it will be different.
It’s strange, but my year is now split into 2 halves.
The half when my parents passed away [the first 6 months] and the half when my parents had their birthdays. [the second 6 months]
That isn’t meant to sound as depressing as it does, it’s just how I now work out where I am in any given year.
Of course there are many other ‘pointers’ … happy, positive, pointers … but that doesn’t take away the sense of utter loss I feel not being able to see or talk to my beloved, wonderful parents. Especially on these days of significance.
But they would not want me to feel depressed, even though it is a sign of how much they mean/meant to me.
Well, maybe my Dad would – but only because he could be a cheeky chap.
So to acknowledge tomorrow – the first time my parents will be together on the anniversary of my Dad’s death – I want to tell a little story of my Dad.
My Dad was a wonderful man, but he had ‘his ways’.
He was the slowest eater in the history of the universe.
He would literally cut his peas in half before eating them. PEAS!
He was also in possession of the most twisted ‘dessert’ creations ever known to man.
Some were tasty, but the fact is, he combined flavours that just sounded wrong together.
He was a kind, generous, intelligent man but there were definitely some ‘quirks’ to him that meant we occasionally clashed.
But despite that, I never wanted for love and support. He made sure I knew how much I meant to him and I will never forget the level of care, compassion and encouragement he – and Mum – gave me.
One day sums it up more than most.
Actually, there’s lots of ‘one days’, I could talk about, but I want to tell you about the time I crashed his car.
So I was 17 and my Dad had a Toyota Celica.
He was very generous in lending me his car, probably more generous than I deserved … though there was the time he rang Paul’s house at 11pm demanding I brought the car back immediately, which was made even more embarrassing by the fact Paul and I had a couple of ‘female friends’ with us, which meant we had to get them a taxi home rather than driving them back ourselves.
Anyway, one day he lent me his car and I drove down to Central Avenue … which was West Bridgford’s ‘high street’.
I can’t remember the reason why, but I do remember looking to my left at something before the terrible sound of crushing metal hit my ears. Yep, I’d hit another car.
Of course it was my fault, but what made it worse was the whole community seemed to come out and started shouting at me as if I’d just tried to murder the person in the other car.
Fortunately no one was hurt and even though I was in a daze, I was able to ‘swap details’ with the other driver before the slow drive home.
Dad’s car was in bad shape.
The whole front side was smashed in … which says more about the standard of Toyota’s manufacturing in the 80’s than my driving, as I wasn’t going very fast.
I was badly shaken.
Apart from the fact it was my first crash, it was in my Dad’s car.
I had ruined my Dad’s bloody car.
I slowly drove home and as I pulled into the drive, I could see my Dad was in the front room with a client.
I got out the car, went into the house and knocked on his door.
He obviously hadn’t seen the damage as he called me in to say hello and to meet his client.
I burst into tears. Massive, uncontrollable sobs.
He immediately got up to hug me and asked, “What’s wrong?”.
I told him.
“I’ve had a crash. I’ve smashed your car. I’m so sorry”.
He asked me if I was alright and how it happened, then said we should go see the car.
It was bad. Really bad.
And do you know what he said?
He said I should get back in it and go to Asda to buy some milk.
Instead of being angry, he was concerned that the smash would stop me from wanting to drive ever again.
He wanted me to ‘get back on the horse’ as quickly as possible so I would realise an accident doesn’t mean a disaster.
I still can’t believe his generosity and compassion.
Sure he was upset but he didn’t lose his temper, didn’t tell me I was an idiot [even though I was] … he just focused on ensuring I was OK both at that exact moment and for the future.
Sure, when things had calmed down we talked about what happened and what I had learnt from the experience, but even then, it wasn’t about ‘telling me off’ or limiting my use of the car … it was about ensuring I didn’t do it again because he loved me and didn’t want me to ever get hurt or feel that terrible again.
That was how special he was as a father.
How wonderful he was as a human.
I hope I can be half as considerate to Otis when he does something like that to me.
Dad … I hope you’re holding hands with Mum and laughing.
I love you.
I miss you.
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