My dad was not a fan of Fathers Day. A day he actually despised ‘commercial bloody exploitation ‘ was his description. So dad.. This cost me nothing!
The last time I saw you, you were just heading off to bed. Bedtime for you had become between 7-8, when you could take your morphine and get some release from the constant pain you were hiding from us all.
If I’d have known that night would be my last chance to kiss you goodnight(at 15 I was still a total daddys girl) I’d have ensured I hugged you extra tight, made sure I told you how so very much I loved you, and not to worry. That I’d look after my mum and sister for you.
I didn’t know though. None of us did. I suspect, though, that you were aware you were coming to the end of that long, painful journey. You had one up on the rest of us though., as usual. You knew your cancer had returned, that instead of last time where you made a hard fought recovery. This time you couldn’t get better and it was only going to give you a month or so with us. You kept that to yourself.
In the days leading up to your funeral, people would talk a lot about how brave you were in not telling us about the cancer. How courageous of you it was to have gone through all that on your own. How kind you’d been sparing us that. I didn’t feel that way. I was so so angry with you.
How could you deprive me of my chance to say goodbye? How could you let your death come as such a shock to my mum, your wife who believed you were going to get better.
Only recently, twenty years later, can I understand why you did it. I’m so sorry I was so angry for so long. I hate that I never got to know you as an adult. I suspect though there would be huge similarities between us. I think you probably didn’t tell anyone because you couldn’t actually handle everyone elses emotions. You must have been going through a torturous time yourself. I understand why you couldn’t also deal with your devoted wife and your 15 and 12 year old daughters having their world ripped apart right in front of you. That you’d always been the guy to come to, who made everything better. When I was sick of being a narrator in primary school plays because I was a good reader. I told you how I wanted a ‘proper part’.. low and behold who was Molly Malone in the next one?. When I didn’t want to go on a school residential because the burgers they served were from a tin?? A tin??. You sorted it and sent me with a box of Birds Eye burgers after ok ing it with the teacher! So now this hugest of things, that you couldn’t solve, that you couldn’t make go away. Well I understand why you couldn’t cope with our heartbreak too.
I didn’t go to your funeral for the same reason. I couldn’t deal with other peoples grief, I couldn’t handle my own and I couldn’t be part of everyone elses.
I understand why you kept your secret and particularly as a parent myself (I know had you been around that never would’ve happened. Was it 40 I had to be before I could hang around with boys??) I see that you were brave and courageous and kind in doing what you did. That you were all the things those around me, who knew better than a heartbroken 15 year old, said you were.
As early as I can remember I put you on the highest superdad pedestal, as being the best and most loved man in my whole entire world.
Do you know what dad? You’re still there.
Ps. You know how I drove you mad with my Kylie obsession and you said she wouldn’t last two minutes??? Seems I was right!!…. Oh and I still don’t get Monty Python