Dad, do you remember?
Dad, do you remember?
I was about 6 years old, it was the mid 1970s, we were sitting on the sofa watching Dr. Who together. I can still smell you while you have your arm around me keeping me as safe as ever. You were wearing your black & red check work shirt, I can feel your muscles in your big arms, I can see your work hands as big shovels with thick skin and fingers like big sausages. Me and my sister always wanted you to do that thing where you put your hands on your head and move your muscles up and down on your arms to the music just like the funny man used to on the TV, which you did and we all used to laugh and laugh and laugh!
Dad, about 20 years later I’m now watching you die in front of me in intensive care. You’re plugged into a machine, your big muscles have gone and now they are just the size of my wrists, your shovel hands and sausage fingers are now skin and bone, your arms and legs are covered in bruised skin. I hate to see you like this but all I can do to help you is cover your feet because they are cold…..
12 Months before this the doctor said if you didn’t stop drinking you would die ….12 months later, you died!!
Dad, we all loved you but that was not enough for you. I know sometimes life is crap and I know you had your fair share of it but so did Mam but she is still here fighting her corner, on her own, some 20 years later. You embarrassed me as a father, you spoke to me like shit and never showed me any love in my older years of growing up when I needed you. You never encouraged me or taught me anything about life when all I wanted was exactly that, so I’d just give you a wide berth and you did the same to me unless you just wanted somebody to shout at or put down that is.
Dad, we would make excuses for you: “he’s not that drunk today” or “he deserves a drink.” I watched you walk my sister down the aisle drunk. I’d watch you eat your food while you could just about get it into your mouth because you were so drunk. You would embarrass us at Xmas. I listened to you crying in bed drunk the night my Nan died. I listened nearly every night to you and Mam screaming and shouting downstairs. I’d see empty bottles of whisky in the kitchen, hoping I would never see a full one reappear but they did. I couldn’t get on in school due to these things but I was good at day dreaming so I would just drift off and wish I was somewhere else other than there. I watched as you lost your job, your self-respect and your grip on life as we lost our house and you. I was an angry kid and would always be in trouble with the Police and do anything without a care in the world – maybe now I know why. I’m surprised I never ended up in prison, and I’m sure that was my Nan’s doing as she watched over me, because that was truly my destiny.
So here I am Dad, over 40 years later since that episode of Dr. Who, not far off the same age as you were then. Have a guess what? There is a lady Dr. Who now! Funny how life changes eh?! I’m sitting in my summer house with my dog on a lovely, warm, sunny early October afternoon as I managed to finish work early. I have progressed at lot since the last time I saw you. I moved to a place 200 miles away where nobody knows anything about me so they can’t judge, they just know me as me. I met my best friend who I married 10 years ago. I never ever thought I would find her but I did, we have a lovely house, good jobs and a fantastic life together. We are a loving couple, always being silly and messing around, laughing, travelling the world on amazing holidays or just watching Coronation Street on the sofa with the dog – whatever it is we are doing, we are happy…I’m happy, I’ve never met anyone who would be in my corner as much as my fantastic wife has, pretty much like your wife was, eh?
Dad, I loved you and then I hated you but now I just feel sorry for you because you felt that drinking yourself to death was better than staying with your family. How wrong you were….
Dad, I only have one picture of you by choice – it’s black and white and it was when you were in the RAF when you were in your 20s. You are smiling and I can hear you laughing in the picture. You look so happy and care free….I wish I knew you then, maybe we could have been friends.
This will be the last time I will speak to you so….
“Good Night Dad, God Bless”, maybe I’ll see you another time…