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

Accidental Significance: Why Some Days Last Forever.
January 16, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Dad, Family, Mum

At 10:34am, it will be the 14th anniversary of my Dad passing away.

Over the last 7 years of this blog, I’ve written many posts about how much my Dad dying affected me and – to a large extent – screwed me up, but today it’s time to change that.

That doesn’t mean I have stopped thinking it’s immensley important to talk openly about death way before death is a possibility, it’s just that I know my Dad – and my Mum for that matter – would like my memories to be filled with the wonderful times together, not just the ones of pain and loss.

With that in mind, I want to take you back to a day in 1980, at around 3am.

I don’t know why I woke up, but I did.

At 10 years of age, I was old enough to know I could go back to sleep but young enough to still find being awake at that time, utterly amazing.



I honestly believed I might be the only person awake at that time.

The only person who would experience what a World asleep looked like.

What a street in hibernation sounded like.

What a home in absolute darkness felt like.

But then I heard a sound.

Not the sort of sound that would make you hide under the covers … but the distant, muffled sounds of a television.

Our television.

How could this be?

So with the sort of courage I didn’t even know I had, I pushed back the covers of my safe, warm bed and slowly got up.

I could see from my slightly ajar bedroom door, that Mum & Dad’s slightly ajar bedroom door wasn’t emitting any light.

That meant they had to be asleep.

Had to be.

I know they would talk for hours and hours each night, but 3am was ridiculous – no one was awake at 3am.

So with a sense of wonder and inquisitiveness, I took one step … then another … and tip-toed past my bedroom door, past my parents bedroom door and then – before I knew it – I started heading down the stairs.

The noise of the television was getting louder.

I couldn’t make out what was going on, but it was definitely broadcasting something.

At 3am.

What on earth could it be?

As I got to the bottom of the stairs, I could see through a crack in the curtains that linked our kitchen to our lounge, the unmistakeable flickering glow of life.

Life from the television.

I should have been scared, but I wasn’t.

I was curious.

The door to our lounge would always stick a little, it still does, so as I slowly approached it – and then placed my 2 small hands on the handle – I knew I would need to summon all my strength to be able to push it down hard enough to ensure I could open it without making too much noise.

With all my might I pressed down and then, ever-so-gently, I used my shoulder to push the door while somehow pulling the handle towards me so that the door would not burst open with dramatic force.

I was in.

As I peered around the door … way down the other end of the room … I could see the television glowing.

It wasn’t just glowing, it was showing something.

It was showing ice skating.

It was showing the Winter Olympics ice skating.

It was showing the Winter Olympics ice skating live from Lake Placid in New York.

At 3 o’clock in the morning!!!

But rather than be confused, it was at that very moment, I knew everything was OK.

As I walked slowly into the lounge and tiptoed past the dining table towards the television, I saw my Dad sitting on the sofa.

In his dressing gown.

Engrossed with what was going on the screen.

Slowly he turned his head and saw me.

In front of my eyes, his face transformed from one of total concentration into one that emitted the warmest, most welcoming, loving smile you’ve ever seen.

“What are you doing up?” he asked.

I’ll always remember how he said it because it wasn’t just a voice of curiosity, it was mixed with the sound of total happiness.

It might be the nicest way I’ve ever been asked a question in my life.

“I can’t sleep”, I replied.

And then, without any more words spoken, he simply patted the seat next to him and I trotted over to join him … placing my head on his chest, curling my legs up beside me and holding his hand.

Father and son together.

United in silence.

Transfixed by what was on the screen.

After a few minutes, it dawned on me that I hadn’t asked him why he was awake at this impossible time.

As I looked up, I was met by his wonderful, kind blue eyes staring back at me.

It was if he knew what was on my mind, because he simply said, “Robin Cousins is skating soon”.

Robin Cousins was a British ice skater.

He was incredibly talented and was expected to perform very well at the Olympics.

My parents loved ice-skating.

They loved the grace, the skill, the intricacy, the flow.

It also helped that my Dad vaguely knew Jane Torville, one half of the World famous – Nottingham born – ice skating duo, Torville and Dean.

Personally, I never really cared for ice skating.

I only liked seeing the scores or if anyone fell down during their routine.

But at that moment, I loved it.

I loved every single moment of it.

The sound of the skates.

The flamboyance of the outfits.

The wild applause that followed every routine.

The way they could spin around so fast it looked like they weren’t moving at all.

Seemingly satisfied by his response, I placed my head back on his chest and we got back to watching the drama unfold on the screen while my Mum slept soundly in her bed upstairs, totally unaware that her beloved husband and son were sharing a moment that one of them would recount 33 years later … a moment where Robin Cousins would skate so magnificently, it was if he wanted to win the Olympic Gold just for the Father and son sitting quietly on the couch in West Bridgford at 3 o’clock in the morning.

To make it more memorable. To make it more special.

And the next morning, I proudly and excitedly recounted the whole story to my Mum.

And she smiled a smile that I’ll remember forever.

A smile of pure joy.

Which is why, after all these years, I’ll always treasure that night, because it still lets me feel close to my Dad.

And that’s why I’ll always be grateful to Robin Cousins.

Because he sort-of helped make it happen.

A night I’ll never forget.

A night I’ll always love.

A night I’ll always feel comforted by.

Dad was everything to me.

He still is.

He always will be.

35 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Wonderful post, Rob.
And andy, back fucking off1

Comment by Ciaran McCabe

Saw this. So should you.

Comment by DH

Hello Ciaran. I should inform you Andrew a left a touching message for Robert in the comments of yesterday’s post. I know, because I responded to it at the time.

Comment by Lee Hill

jealous but happy that you’ve reached this point..

Take care today, both you and Mrs Campbell

Comment by niko

That is a very beautiful and moving tribute to your father. He’d be extra proud of you today, I am. A hug to you and your mother from all of us.

Comment by Mary Bryant

You were both blessed to have him and all the experiences and lessons that entailed. Best wishes to you and Mrs C.

Comment by .John

Robin Cousins? I wasn’t expecting that. Great tribute, especially how you started it off. Me & Mrs C would be very happy about that.

Comment by DH

You’re very lucky. My father is the kind who doesn’t respond to his children at all and has basically cut off all contact. I thought it was just me for a while not getting responses but I hear I’m not alone. My mum is fab though. Bit annoying but fab. You know what I mean.

Comment by Charles Edward Frith (@charlesfrith)

If my children feel half as much love for me as you do for your parents, I will consider myself a lucky man. Take care of yourself and your Mum today and thank you for reminding me how the significance of the quiet, everyday things. I’ll be going to work a little later tomorrow.

Comment by George

It’s good to read how you’re you’re approaching your Dad’s anniversary Rob. He would be very happy about that.

Comment by Pete

I never had the pleasure of meeting your father, but if you are anything to go by, I would have found him fascinating company. He would be very proud of you Robert and so he should. My kindest regards to your mother.

Comment by Lee Hill

Much love to you and Mrs Campbell. This is beautiful, it touched my heart.

Comment by Katerina

Apart from the fact you “work” in advertising, he’d be proud of you for this.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Thank you to everyone for their lovely and supportive words.

That said, I didn’t write it to get comments, I wrote it more for me … which might sound strange, but is true.

Anyway, I just want to say that I do appreciate it and I’m sure my wonderful Mum does to. Thanks again.

Comment by Rob

I love this post. Hope today is ok for you and your mum.

Comment by Bazza

Awesome moment you shared with your Dad, Rob…and certainly a fitting tribute you’ve written. He sounds like a great man. I’m sure he’s smiling down and very proud of all that his son has accomplished, and he knows how instrumental he was in helping shape who you are today. Much love to you and your mother on this day. Hope you’re well, my friend.

Comment by J. Dube

My Dad would be honored this post brought Mr Hollywood off the brightly lit street to the dark alley of this blog. Thank you matey, means a lot and I can’t wait to see you soon.

Comment by Rob

I was absorbed. When is the sequel?

Comment by Kta

Probably in 12 months time KTA.

Comment by Rob

What a beautiful post. I started following your blog mostly for your entertaining invective and smart, insightful rants, but this caught me by surprise. I just lost my dad 2 months ago, and while I have many blurry memories, I hope I have one that comes together as clearly and perfectly as this. And that I can express it so well. Thanks.

Comment by esmith

Hello, I’m sorry to hear about your news. I know it’s dark now but when you can start remembering the good times, the light comes back. I know that might sound z-grade poet, but it’s true. Take care.

Comment by Rob

After reading your post, began to miss even more parents, who remained in the snow in Siberia.

Comment by ajven

This should be required reading for every parent.
It brought tears in my eyes for all the right reasons.
Thank you Robert.
I hope today is OK for you.

Comment by Wayne Green

Hope today is OK.

Comment by northern

And it joyfully reminds what I’m trying to do with my little boy (and girl) which is roughly doing as many things together as possible, memories always outlive stuff, unless the stuff evokes a memory in the first place
On another note- Robin Cousins? You are a little bit old

Comment by northern

Yes I am. I’ve never said otherwise and fortunately, working at W+K means I feel it more each & every day.

Comment by Rob

great post Rob, very ‘cinematic’ the way it was written. I could really envision every step you were taking toward that TV, then it got me right in the feels. hope today has been… ok.

Comment by Age

I know it’s a difficult day for you, but I hope wonderful things like this make it a little easier.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I felt very moved by your tribute to Dad, Robert, and I liked the fact that you chose to remember him with that little episode that meant so much to you and still does. I have to say that your love for Dad was unselfish and complete (the real thing) and it has remained and will remain so for ever.
A big hug
Mum xxx

Comment by Fiorella

I hope you know he feels the same about you too mama Campbell. I hope this day isn’t too difficult for you. Hugs.

Jemma xxx

Comment by Jemma King

Hello Mum – that’s very sweet – but it’s not hard when I have you and Dad as parents.

Love you lots, speak later & I hope yesterday was OK.


Comment by Rob

You are a cutie Rob. I hope today had more sunshine in it than melancholy. The biggest hug to you and mama.

Jemma xxx

Comment by Jemma King

I would like to thank everybody who expressed their sympathy to Robert and me today. It is very much appreciated. We still miss Roger a lot but I feel it is nice to have the sort of sweet memories Robert and I keep in our hearts.
Fiorella xxx

Comment by Fiorella

Your mum is one classy lady Rob.

Hope today goes OK for you Mrs C.

Comment by DH

Best wishes to you Mrs Campbell.

Comment by George

Leave a Reply