Filed under: Childhood, Comment, Dad, Death, Jill, Love, Mum, Mum & Dad, Otis, Parents
Oh Dad, how can it be 18 years.
How is that possible?
I remember that phonecall like it was yesterday.
You had been in hospital since Christmas having taken a turn for the worse.
And then on the 27th December, Mum called to say it was very bad and the Doctors had told her that I should come back right away.
In a weird way, this did not worry me.
We had gone through the same situation twice in the last 3 months and both times, you had pulled through.
But then I realised Mum’s voice sounded a bit different … more scared … and that’s when I started to get worried.
As you know, after a rather traumatic flight from Sydney, I got to Nottingham and was by your side at the QMC.
You were very poorly, but you knew I was there and it seemed to help.
But the strange thing is I can’t really remember what happened between arriving by your side and the Doctor asking me if I wanted him to remove the suffering you were going through.
I know Mum and I spent every day – from the moment visiting hours started to when they ended – next to you.
I know I told you how much I loved you. How I tried to will you back to health.
But the actual conversations and considerations are a total blank.
I’d like to say it’s because 18 years is a long time, but it’s actually because my brain refused to let me deal with the realities of your situation until that conversation with the Doctor.
4 years of delusion and denial pricked by a single conversation with the Doctor.
4 years of ignoring Mum as she quietly and tenderly tried to prepare me for the inevitable.
I certainly hope I was better when Mum passed away.
Of course, it was less expected than your situation and yet, deep down, I feared it may happen – as, it seems, did Mum – which is why I was much more aware of what was happening or what may happen.
So I need to thank you yet again, for helping me learn.
For trying to ensure I didn’t face more pain than I absolutely needed to.
Oh Dad, I wish you were here.
I wish I could hear the questions you would have for me.
I wish I could look into your bright blue eyes as you heard what I’d been up to over the last 18 years.
The decisions I’ve made …
The situations I’ve encountered …
The life I have somehow managed to live …
I would give anything to hear the pride – mixed with incredulity – you’d express about the career I’ve managed to forge.
The places it’s let me live. The people it’s let me meet. The experiences it’s let me enjoy.
The family it has let me have.
The daughter-in-law you would absolutely adore.
And the grandson you would be totally obsessed with.
But you’re not here … not physically, anyway … but in a weird way, Mum passing has made me feel closer to you.
Not that you were ever far away, but 18 years meant I had got used to the memory of you rather than the presence of you.
However now Mum has joined you, I kind of feel you’re both near me again.
I know that’s mad and I can see you shaking your head at me … but it’s true.
Don’t worry, I’ve not become a religious fool – but the fact you’re together has helped me a lot because I never was happy that you were both apart from each other.
But now, my mind, you’re back together, as you should be.
As you always were throughout my childhood.
And I cannot tell you how special that was to me.
Even more so now.
So while today is a day of sadness, it is also a day of joy … because you will be happy to know I am no longer lost in the pain of your final few years and can now focus on the wonderful life you had and we shared, exemplified when I had the honour of discovering the card you wrote to Mum when I was born.
I never doubted how much you loved me, but finding this was the verbal equivalent of one of your warm, wonderful hugs.
Sure I cried my eyes out, but oh what a feeling that was.
I so hope Otis feels the same way when he finally stops trying to wriggle out of my arms everytime I give him a cuddle. Ha.
So now it is time to go and I want to leave you by saying that while it has been 18 years, the love I have for you has never faded – if anything, quite the opposite – and even though I wish with all my heart that you were still here to be involved in the daily rituals of my life, the fact you’re with Mum makes the sadness a bit more manageable.
Still miss you though.
Love you Dad.
Filed under: Comment, Dad, Daddyhood, Family, Jill, Mum, Mum & Dad, Otis, Parents
How I miss you.
I am in a better place than I was this time last year, but you are always in my thoughts.
I continually tell Jill how much I would have loved you to meet Otis.
He’s such a lovely little boy.
Cheeky but oh-so-sweet.
He can throw a temper tantrum in 0.3 milliseconds, but will always say “thank you” [in a weird Americanesque accent] the moment you do anything for him … from giving him a drink to opening the front door.
I think about what you’d say if you saw him.
How you’d look.
And I know the pride and joy on your face would be both for how wonderful your grandson is and how well you think I – your son – am doing with him.
Of course we both would know so much of it is down to Jill, but if I’m doing anything right [and if you read tomorrow’s post, you’ll realise that is questionable] it is down to the love and support I felt from you and Dad throughout my childhood.
The love and support I still feel, despite you both being gone.
And that’s why I’m wishing you a happy birthday … not just because I love you and I miss you, but because your presence is still with me and always will be, which is probably the best testimony I can give to you as a person and as a parent.
I am honoured that I was able to call you my Mum.
You were an amazing lady and a fabulous Mum in every possible way … even if you never thought you were and would be telling me to stop with all the compliments.
So Happy birthday Mum, tell Dad to give you an extra kiss from me. Love you. Rx
I wish I could be with you to sit down and chat.
I wish I could be with you to look right into your eyes.
I wish I could be with you to see your smile.
I wish I could be with you to give you a ridiculous present that I know you’d love.
I wish I could be with you and say Happy 78th.
Happy birthday Dad.
Love you … give Mum a kiss for me.
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Dad, Daddyhood, Family, Food, Jill, Otis, Parents
I’ve written previously about the privilege it is to see my son experience things for the very first time in his life.
His first word.
His first food.
His first crawl.
His first plane trip.
His first time in the sea.
I cannot put into words how magical and amazing it feels.
The only downside being it is a constant reminder he is growing up in the blink of an eye.
Before I was a Dad, I used to listen to parents say that about their children and think ..
“It takes 18 years for your kid to grow up. 18 years is a bloody long time. Get over it”
… but now I am a father, I totally get what they mean.
Every day something new happens.
A new word.
A new experience.
A new interaction.
And you both relish it and hate it because it means they’re growing up. Developing. Moving towards a time where they will no longer be reliant on you … a time where you will no longer be the most important people in their World.
The best thing about technology is I can capture these things in perfect clarity.
Not just so I can embarrass Otis when he’s older – though that is pretty good too – but so I can remember the feeling or love and wonder I have every time I am given the honour of witnessing my son grow up right in front of my eyes.
Which leads to the point of this post.
Recently we gave Otis his first taste of ice cream.
A product he could neither quite grasp in terms of taste or how to eat it.
But he liked it … or at least the concept of it.
I won’t say anymore – I’ll let you see it for yourself – though wouldn’t it be great if we were all this happy about such simple pleasures.
God, I love that kid so, so much.
Have a great weekend.
I’ve written tons on how much I adore being Otis’ Dad.
It’s utterly, utterly brilliant in every possible way.
But in the back of my mind, I still remember reading an article in Loaded Magazine [RIP] where the writer talked about how every kid reaches a point in their life where their Dad – and sadly, it’s always the Dad – goes from being a superhero who can solve, achieve and do anything they can imagine to being a lazy fuck who can’t even program the video recorder.
While my opinion of my Dad was never that extreme [though he did occasionally need help programming the VCR], I did go through a phase where I thought he was the un-coolest and most annoying man on the planet, for no other reason than every kid – as the writer in Loaded pointed out – goes through this phase.
Which means Otis will.
And when he does, I will have to remember – like my Dad did – that it’s just a phase and it’s nothing personal and he’ll love me again once the phase is over, even though it will take all my willpower not to feel utterly devastated each day until he’s through it.
Because I love him that much.
That bloody much.
Kids. They really fuck you up.
A Little Update
After that post of misery – which is made worse by the fact it’s a Monday – I have some good news. For you, at least.
There will be no more posts until Friday.
Yep … not one.
And the reason for that is because for the next 3 days I’ll be in a locked room in Singapore judging the final round of effectiveness awards.
Given  the ‘shortlist’ was longer than the initial round of judging and  some entries encapsulate what I ranted about here … my pain is going to be your gain. But on the bright side, at least I get to ensure anything that is “blatant award fodder” is humiliated rather than rewarded. Though that’s nothing compared to what I’d like to do to them, not to mention the people who either pushed this shit or signed off on it.
Until Friday. Cue: Evil Laugh.
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Dad, Death, Empathy, Insight, Love, Mum, Mum & Dad
I recently read a letter in the Guardian from someone wishing to thank the DR who helped them come to terms that their precious family member was going to die.
Before I go on, it would be worth reading it here.
I must admit it made a big impact on me, mainly because I went through it myself.
My father had been ill for a number of years – and on 2 previous occasions, 3 months apart – I had rushed back from Australia because I’d been told he was expected to only have 24 hours to live.
However, as I’ve written many times before, I still thought we would see a miracle and I thought that right up until the last few days of his life.
Dad had become ill again over Christmas and I had flown back from Sydney.
He was in a bad state … apart from complications from his stroke, he had blood poisoning.
He was ill. Worse than I had ever seen him.
And I remember this next moment with terrifying clarity.
Mum and I were by Dad’s side when a Doctor came to see him in the early afternoon.
Afterwards, he looked at Mum and me and gently told us that there was not much he could do but make him comfortable.
He asked if that is what we wanted.
I said yes, tears welling in my eyes.
He then asked if I – and it was specifically me – understood what that meant.
For the first time in years, I could no longer deny the inevitable, my Father was going to die and he was going to die soon.
I didn’t want that. I wanted him to be with me forever. But this was the moment of truth … where what I wanted was not nearly as important as what he needed and the best way I could show how much I loved him was to allow him to go, with dignity and peace.
As I nodded to the doctor, the tears started pouring down my cheeks because after years of my wonderful mum trying to gently coax me into realising the severity of his situation, I finally realised it.
I think we had a couple more days together until that Saturday, on January 16th 1999, when we were called into the hospital early in the morning.
I am incredibly grateful we were with him … that he knew we were by his side as he slowly walked the bridge between life and death … but as much as that day represents unbelievable sadness to me, I will always be grateful to that Doctor.
He was empathetic without being condescending.
He was factual without being cold.
He was present, without being overbearing.
His actions not only ensured we could give my Dad the peace he needed … the peace he deserved … he gave my Mum and me a chance to say the final words we wanted to say. The words that still bring tears to my eyes 17 years later.
I wish I could remember the name of that Doctor.
I remember he was quite young … but if I was to see him again, I’d say thank you.
Because while he wanted to ensure we knew the reality of the situation, he did it with respect and grace and while I may have once thought those truths were the last things you’d want to hear, you realise they are the best demonstration of someone who appreciates humanity.
Thank you Doctor.
A old friend of mine recently sent me this …
I love it. Not just because I relate to it but because it reminds me of a story about my Dad.
When I was growing up, I used to have a lot of friends come to my house and – like it shows in the photo – they would dump their bikes outside the house or on our lawn.
Sometimes the bikes would be out there for a few minutes and sometimes for the whole day.
We didn’t have to worry about them getting stolen – not just because crime was very low – but because the community I lived in meant everyone knew each other so if someone saw someone on a bike they knew wasn’t there’s, they’d get a smack round the earhole and be told to return it.
Social interaction was different back then.
We would turn up at each others houses unannounced just to see if you wanted to come out and play.
We could have used our home telephones to see if our mates were in – and we occasionally did – but the whole attitude to life was much more spontaneous.
Nowadays, if a mate turned up at my house unannounced, my initial reaction would either be mild irritation or concern for their mental state.
Anyway, I digress.
While my parents loved the house being full of noise, my Dad hated it when we left our bikes on the drive because it meant he couldn’t easily get the car in or out of the garage.
One day – during the big school holidays of the 1980’s – Paul was at my house and we’d left our bikes on my drive.
We’d been playing happily for a few hours when my Dad came home and wanted to see how we were.
After chatting with him for a while, Paul and I decided to go out so we left the house only to discover OUR BIKES WEREN’T ON THE DRIVE.
We looked on the grass.
We looked down the side of the house.
We looked on the pavement.
We started to panic and ran back into the house to ask my Dad if he’d moved them.
“No”, he said.
We started getting upset, not just because Paul had an expensive posers BMX Mongoose, but because our bikes were our independence … so my Dad told us the only thing to do is walk to the local police station and either report the crime or see if someone had handed them in.
Upset, we set off to report the loss of our beloved bikes.
We had only gone a few minutes when we heard my Dad shouting at us to come back.
We ran home and he led us to the garage.
He pulled open the door but instead of seeing his car in there, we saw our bikes.
As we were trying to work out what the hell was going on, my Dad turned to us and said,
“Don’t leave your bikes in the driveway again”.
We never did.
I miss his lessons.
And I hope Otis gets to enjoy the same sort of childhood I had.