Yesterday was one of those pretty lazy Sundays, after a good gym session and some life admin/general chores, whilst the other half was beautifully practising the piano, and I was sadly up to date with all the Love Island episodes (judge me more now I tell you I’m watching both the UK and Australian version), I took a moment away from Instagram and hopped over to where I rarely get my social media fix, and that was Facebook. I get bored on FB very quickly, but in the first few seconds, my peepers were welcomed to a mass array of Father’s Day messages, where my UK based pals were ‘celebrating’.
It got me to thinking…
…that in two weeks tomorrow, it will be an astonishing twenty years since I last spent time with father, my dad, my popsicles, my Mike. And that time was even a jolly, a joyful typical Friday, until 1.45pm rolled around.
I was your pretty normal sixteen year old, done with school for the summer holidays already, having finished my final exams, the GCSEs were complete and the long summer was ahead of me, followed by the prep of sixth form, all in advance of heading off to university after a few years.
Luckily, I was home that day. Not doing what your average 16 year old gal would be doing in the summer holidays, but doing what I was used to: spending time with our dad, or as he was known to me, Mike. Watching the Channel4 horse racing to see if he’d made 50p or a even a pound on that last race, all before he was due to get ready for his afternoon job, down Radco, cleaning the bakery machines. He was more than that, he was the entertainer. With Galaxy101 playing out 30 minutes of uninterrupted current smash hits, he knew them all, and you’d hear him singing them out down at the frozen section. Such a clown.
With the races coming to a close and his shift due to start, he got up from his chair to go wash up before heading off. Sad truth is, he only made it past the end of the sofa before he skipped off into the bright white light.
I heard a thud, and looked around to see his tea cup releasing the last few drops over mothers super clean carpet, standing up to see where he was, I saw his silvery face and sweating body on the floor, thinking, sure he’s a clown, but this is too far. Then in what felt like half a second I managed to check on him, call mother at work to inform her “Mike’s fallen on the floor, I’m calling an ambulance”, phone down, 999 dialled. Then time stood still… mother had flown through the front door, I could hear her screaming in the kitchen, whilst the police men stood at the door discussing the bouncy castle they had arranged for a daughters birthday the next day, and the paramedics assuring me the needle they had would save my father. Knowing how much he hated needles, I was nervous, but surely paramedics don’t give false information. Yeah, turns out they do. My father, our dad, my best friend, Mike, the only one I need to celebrate on Fathers Day, was gone.
I remember standing at the front window, cool, calm, and just letting it all happen. My friend Adele was first to come visit and give me the warmest hug, and then the dramas of my mother’s screaming and the manic arrival of family members running through the house, I decided to just leave. I headed to one of my oldest friends, Kelly, house, and we just sat in the bathroom, talked about what just happened. Talking as though we were discussing what had happened on Eastenders the night before. It was all barmy. This doesn’t happen. Teenagers don’t say toodle pip to their parents until they’ve at least given them grandchildren, surely. Again, not always.
I was sixteen years of age.
From that afternoon onwards, it’s fair to say, my life altered forever. I didn’t stay on at sixth form, I got a full time job and became the bread winner at our once full to the brim of family house, with just my mother and I. University was no longer on the agenda, it was all work work work and growing up pretty darn fast.
Hearing friends and dear ones after their wedding day, say how beautiful their day was and how it will be the day they remember the most, twenty years on, I am confident that to me, the day Mike was taken from me will be thee most memorable day of my life, but totally not the most enjoyable. Should I decide to get married, he won’t be there to walk me down the isle, he won’t be there to tell me how proud of me he is, and he won’t be there to eat more than his share of the wedding cake. New memories haven’t been made with him for the last twenty years, I only have sixteen short years of memories with my father, and it gets to the point where I think, are these memories or are they just repetitions of stories I’ve told myself over the last twenty years. It’s hard. Really hard. I have so many genuine memories and stories about the greatest man in my life, and what’s horrible is the man I am proud to call my significant other will never get to witness it first hand. He can’t share a love of music with him, a love of hot chips and junk foods, a love of sports, a love of gambling (although, I’m torn whether he would find it funny or be furious that you only asked me out on a date as part of bet!), and he can’t thank you for looking after me and sharing a great future with me.
This weekend I’m unable to make my twenty year school reunion, which I’m sad about. To catch up with my oldest friends and to see how life is treating anyone, sharing our great memories from yesteryear. I also want to speak to those poor friends who have had to experience what I have over the years. Whether it be a recent loss, or a loss that occurred many years ago, I just want to let you know, that many people will tell you it gets better with time, I will tell you that it doesn’t. It never gets easier and every day is as hard as day one. What does change however is how you learn to handle it. You turn those tears and aches into a timeout where you can just spend a few moments reminding you of the cherished times you were able to spend with your father.
If you’re still lucky enough to have all the pieces to your family puzzle, be sure to make every day a Happy Day for your Father. xxx