The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Why January 16th Is Always The Worst Day Of My Year.
January 15, 2007, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Comment

The Living Saint's Sweet Peas 

This is a very self-indulgent post today, and I make no apologies for it … because on this day, 8 years ago at 10:34am [GMT] the single most terrible event of my life happened.

My Father died.  

He was 60.

Now because he’d suffered 3 years of illness [mainly numerous strokes] I should have known things weren’t likely to get better – but I had amazingly convinced myself that because a stroke had taken away his ability to speak, walk, move … another stroke may help make it all normal again.

Obviously this was me exercising ‘blind hope’, however it wasn’t totally without merit – because at one point, another stroke did help him regain some elements of communication – which for an articulate, intellligent man was an absolute blessing. However, whichever way you look at it, my Father was pretty much trapped inside his body … aware of everything going on around him but unable to participate in it.

The general belief is that pain fades as time passes … but I’m not so sure about that.

What I think happens is that we manage to hide the feelings/memories into some dark corner of our mind – because when a situation occurs where they‘re brought back into our consciousness, the sadness comes back with the same force as we originally experienced.

I had a great childhood … my parents were [and my Mum still is] wonderful parents. I was never left wanting for love, support or advice … and they believed in me with such passion that it gave me the confidence to ‘have a go’ at pretty much whatever I fancied …  surely the most valuable gift a parent can give their child .

Now please don’t get into your head my folks were like some middle-American set of parents where every little thing done is given over-the-top praise … from wiping your arse to opening the door … because that so wasn’t the case.  It’s just that in my parents opinion, if something was important to me, they felt I should explore it  [and they should encourage it] because a life of regret or denial was/is no life at all.

Of course there were moments when I was in serious trouble …  but to be fair to them, when that happened, I bloody well deserved the bollocking I got! Ha.

The Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy

Now a while ago, Northern Planner wrote about how  he feels ‘different’ when he goes back to the place where he grew up and I so relate to that – except my Mum not only lives in the same areashe lives in the same house

As I said, I had a great, great childhood and my family home is somewhere I truly treasure.  However, ever since my Dad died, I can’t help but feel the ‘air’ in the place has somewhat changed – there’s now a sense of ’emptiness’  even when it is echoing to the sound of laughter from me, my Mum or my friends.

It’s weird because it’s the same yet so different – like I’m in some sort-of parallel universe – and I get the same feeling when I go back to my home in Australia … that sense of being stranger in your own home.  I guess that’s normal but it still feels strange … uncomfortable … un-nerving.

However the thing that really blows me away is how much I can be affected by totally ‘normal’ situations.

I can be walking down the street, minding my own business, and see a man with the kindest eyes and immediately have to tell myself not to go up and hug him.  I can see someone on the television and the way they speak or the way they sit instantly transports me to a time where the word family meant sitting at home and talking with Mum and Dad. And once when I watched Billy Elliott at the cinema, I cried for ages straight after the scene where Billy and his Dad finally bonded over his love of ballet.


Because I miss his support and conversation.  Infact it’s that I miss the most.

Now please don’t think I don’t talk to my Mum … I do and she is wonderful and supportive – it’s that just as I was about to embark on the adventure of my life, my Dad went and had his bloody stroke. What you have to understand is that my Dad was very inquisitive … he loved asking questions [and passing opinions, ha!] … so not being able to discuss with him all I was experiencing is unbelievably, desperately, heart-wrenchingly sad.

My Dad had his stroke 3 weeks prior to me leaving England … and whilst I was ready to cancel the whole trip, my parents told me I had to carry on with it because I’d planned it for so long.  And even when in a period of 6 months I had to rush back on 3 separate occasions because I’d been told he had only 24 hours to live, they continued to send me off again because they felt I still hadn’t experienced all I needed to and that my life should never stop because there’s was. 

And whilst there were many arguments [about me wanting to stay and them wanting me to go] I know that what they were doing was the ultimate demonstration of love, support and selflessness. I hope I can be like that should the situation ever arise.

I suppose the hardest bit was that while my Mum and I were given incredible support when my Dad died … within a week it was as if our pain had been forgotten by everyone around us.  Of course life goes on … but as bad as I was feeling, I knew that my Mum was going through more because not only had she lost her husband of nearly 40 years – a husband she had cared for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 3 years – she had also lost her only son to the other side of the planet … meaning that for the first time in 29 years, the house she returned to was completely empty but for her.

Now my Mum is bloody cool. She’s 74 and the most tech-savvy OAP I know. 

She video conferences with me on SKYPE everyday, she follows my plane routes on the internet every time I fly, she sends me SMS’s using text language … however for all her love of embracing the new, she – like me – knows that deep down inside her is a sense of loss that is more painful than anything else we can experience.

I should point out it’s not all pain and sadness … there’s feelings of happiness, love and warmth as well [how could there not be, he was a wonderful man] … however even though I’m 36 years of age, at certain times, in certain situations, I can honestly say that the loss of my Dad frustrates the crap out of me – because apart from the fact he was way, way too young to die, I’d just love to hear what he thinks of what I am doing, what I have done and what I want to do. 

My Dad was a fantastic, intelligent, warm, caring, loving man and whilst he would often lecture me on the decline of ethics or how beautiful sweet peas  were when they are in bloom…  I’d still give my right arm in an instant to hear it all again.

When people say the dead are always with you, they’re right – they are – but don’t wait till it’s too late to understand all the bits of them that make them who they are.

Thinking of you Dad …

PS: Apologies for the depressing nature of this post – but on the brightside, my Dad probably loves the fact he still can drive me to tears, Ha!

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