On Monday 3rd my dad breathed his last after almost 84 years. He’d been unwell for a couple of months and just 2 weeks ago moved into a great nursing home, with staff who were very caring of him and us.
In some ways I lost my Dad in 1985 when I was 13. He was knocked down by a car and sustained a massive head injury which he battled with until he died. I know my mam found it very hard at times. Over the years he came back to us a little – he certainly didn’t lose his sense of humour or his love of a drink and a sing song. Thankfully, we had lots of moments where his real personality got out in front of the struggles he had with mental health. He had a great ability to tell a story you’d already heard (more than once) and still make you laugh. He had an endless supply of songs and energy to sing them. And the combination of his and mam’s love of music and parties, and just being together was passed on to us.
At the funeral last week, my brother mentioned that we had trouble keeping up with him. We really did! Right up to the last couple of months he was constantly on the go. And right up to the last few days he had great intentions to keep going.
He loved Christmas. No really… he LOVED Christmas. And he was always prepared well in advance. Another trait he passed on. One of my abiding memories of him is his work ethic. I used to say that my leg would have to fall off before he’d let me take a day off school. And even then he’d ask if I could carry it!
I’m still in shock to be honest and have all the usual ‘why didn’t I…?’ questions rolling around my head. But although we spent a lot of time worrying about him, he was as happy as larry most of the time. So I’m going to remember his life and sense of humour. His hilarious stories and comprehensive Christmas card list. His lively singing voice and charming smile.
“No better man” was a phrase he used a lot. But I love that he didn’t only use it about himself. “No better man” and “No better girl” was a compliment given to us all at one stage or another. He didn’t mind sharing the title.
I’m sorry I never got to talk to him about my book. He did talk to others about it and was surprised that I was able to write so many stories. When that report came back to me I was laughing & thinking… “eh hello… and where did I get that from do you think???”
But I did find his copy of my book with a little note on it and like most things after the owner is gone – it’s all the more precious.
This weekend we’ll be thinking of him and my mam as it is her 9th anniversary. It’s a strange thing to have no parents any more. But I’m so blessed to have had them both as my parents. And I know my family feel the same.