In Memory of my Dad

My Dad and Mum on their wedding day
My Dad and Mum on their wedding day

My Dad died five years ago.  It was this which pre-empted our decision to move back to England, so we could be with Mum.  Mum and Dad had divorced years ago, but were still incredibly good friends and his death was a huge loss for her.  I’ve never talked about my Dad much in my blog.  Ours was not a simple relationship, marred by decades of alcoholism.  When I had children I think Dad felt it was his second chance and was the absolute best Grandfather my children could ever wish for.  By the time we moved to Ireland he was visiting most days, helping around the house and taking the three older ones (who were two and three at the time) out for a daily walk.  I finally had the support and love of a father I had craved all my life.  When we moved to Ireland, he continued his quest to give our family his unparalleled support.  He phoned daily, wrote, we emailed and sent packages to him (of ridiculous things the children wanted to send him like Play Mobil figures and the like).  He always responded with utmost enthusiasm to it all.  My older children have wonderfully happy memories of Dad.

Dad and I on my wedding day
Dad and I on my wedding day

The December before he died, three months after A5’s birth, he, his wife and my mum and brother came and visited.  It was the first (and last) time my family had all been together for years.  They came for Christmas and it was lovely.  We could not have known at that time that he would be dead within months.  When he turned 70 in the following March, I sent him a letter.  It was a letter that just a few years previously would have been impossible to write.  It was a letter telling him how much I loved him.  How much I appreciated him as a father and how much I enjoyed the relationship we had developed since the children had been born.  It was a letter which had him phoning me in tears, telling me it was the best present he had ever received in his life.  He had never before told me he loved me, and he didn’t then, but it was at that moment I knew, with all of my heart, that he loved me with all of his.

A very young Gary, me and Dad on my graduation from Nursing school
A very young Gary, me and Dad on my graduation from Nursing school

A few short weeks later he was dead.  But he and I had said all that needed to be said.  There was nothing left.  No regrets.  The past pains had literally been forgiven and forgotten and my memories of him, to this day, are all of him in his latter days, loving our family with all he was capable of.

Dad, it’s been five years but I still feel like it was yesterday I last talked to you.  I find myself waiting for the next email, letter, call, which of course won’t ever come.  I still haven’t deleted your email address from my computer. I probably never will.  I love you, and will love you forever, for you are my Dad xx

Good Timber

    by Douglas Malloch

The tree that never had to fight

For sun and sky and air and light,

But stood out in the open plain

And always got its share of rain,

Never became a forest king

But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil

To gain and farm his patch of soil,

Who never had to win his share

Of sun and sky and light and air,

Never became a manly man

But lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow with ease:

The stronger wind, the stronger trees;

The further sky, the greater length;

The more the storm, the more the strength.

By sun and cold, by rain and snow,

In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth,

We find the patriarchs of both.

And they hold counsel with the stars

Whose broken branches show the scars

Of many winds and much of strife.

This is the common law of life.

My brave brother chose and read this out beautifully at my Dad’s funeral.  It is now one of my favourite poems.