My dad has died.
I could write a book on the whole thing (the before, the during, the after so far) but then I could write a book on a lot of things. None of them particularly joyous events but yet gripping, entertaining and, at times, funny in that kind of hysterically dark 'if we didn't laugh we'd cry' way.
Anyway, if you follow this blog you could probably have guessed he had died, thus my absense. Let's face it - I wasn't likely to be away on a cruise round the Caribbean was I? (On any level). Or camping in a field somewhere. Or, erm, just having fun? Nooooooo.
That just wouldn't be the way it would run.
Anyway, I'm back, you can't get rid of me. Life so far has tried to sink me in a multitude of forms, but yet, it hasn't yet pushed me to the depths from which I can not rise back up and wrestle it to the ground. Like a giant squid. Or Jaws (before he bit into an underground electric gable and died with smoke pouring from his fibreglass eyes).
Anyway he died last week, the funeral is Friday. I've been to Matalan and bought my frock. I tried to go to John Lewis but, on leaving the M5, got caught up in a series of mini-roundabouts, signs asking me to decide between 'The Mall, The Venue, The Retail Park and The Super-Retail Park' and, to cut a long, traumatic and expletive strewn story short, ended back on the motorway going in the wrong direction. At that point I gave up and decided I'd been out of the Big Smoke long enough to truly start to sweat once I pass Weston-Super-Mare.
How do you fill a hole this big? Well you can't. For the moment the panther that is this grief walks beside me. I know that he is there and sometimes we fix eachother with our stares, but for now I walk with his stride. I do not let him overtake me so that he can turn back and stop me in my tracks. I do not let him fall behind so that he can push me to the ground. I match his stride, I listen to his breath and I wonder. About it all. But I do not let him take me. Yet.
So many of our memories of my dad are now taken up with the last few months. And these are not what he was. So the most important thing that people can do for the moment is help us all remember who he REALLY was. The real man.
The vicar is trying to put together 'some words' to summarise my dad on Friday.
How long has she got?
My mum wondered if she'd like to tell the story about the 'left-behind darning needle' and his left testicle but we decided that was, perhaps, a bit too much for the vicar, however 'Vicar of Dibley-Stylee' she may be.
If you think my life is random, if you think I can tell a good story......Well you never met my dad. He always wanted to write a book but he never got there. He never even got to retirement age.
Today, during a rather dark afternoon, I got an email from his old work colleagues, passing on some stories for the vicar to retell. This one just about sums him up. As I said, the apple doesn't fall from the tree...........
Dad (or Doug as he is in this), this one's for you:
Doug had gone to New Zealand via the USA in Boston and Russ met him in Auckland.
He was exhausted and really grumpy as his luggage had not turned up and all he was left with was the clothes he was standing in.
They had to fly down to Christchurch for a meeting so couldn’t wait around and Russ told him that the luggage would have to catch him up.
In Christchurch they found a large man's shop (Doug was 6' 7" and over 25 stone) and got him ashirt and trousers but the boxer shorts were way too small so Russ told him he would need to wash the pair he was wearing every night and they should dry ok as it was summer.
He went to Doug’s room the following morning and as the door opened he could hear whoosh.....whoosh ..........whoosh. What on earth?
Well Doug had attached his damp boxers to the overhead cooling propeller type fan and put the thing on full speed!!!!. There were his pants, rotating round the hotel room ceiling at top speed whilst Doug checked his emails on the laptop. Russ collapsed in laugher whilst only being able to have visions of a large schooner in full sail. Doug however carried on as if this were perfectly normal behaviour for a man on the road who had to be adaptable.