It’s a gorgeous day here in Christchurch so I’ll get out into the garden for a bit. But first, time to post for Dad. You see today it’s 5 years since my Dad died. For those of you who don’t know me too well but are reading this blog you might think… wasn’t it just 5 years since my mum died? Yes it is. She died on the 1st November, and Dad died 23 days later. I can’t remember much about November 2008, except it was pretty crap. I always feel like I didn’t really grieve properly for Dad because it was so close to mum’s passing. Not that there’s a proper way to grieve.
My memories of Dad are so different to the ones of Mum. He was the quiet one, you see. The one who made corny jokes… you know the sort: Dentist time is 2.30 – and other puns that make you groan. Actually my brothers all have that sort of humour and their kids call them “dad-jokes” and I giggle as they are the sort of jokes our Dad would have made! Perhaps that’s what dads do, make corny jokes.
As I was saying though, he was the quiet one. He took early retirement and he went from being an accountant to a potterer. Pottering away in the garden. He loved the sunshine and would be happy to sit in the sun quietly (and nod off, sometimes in later years!). He loved driving. He’d drive me to music lessons and pick me up every week. Sunday drives with Dad provide a lifetime of memories. He taught me to drive. In some ways he was a dreadful driver. He enjoyed looking all around him and not at the road! His come-back to that would be “I’ve never had an accident in my life” (true) and we’d all mutter under our breath “how many did you cause?!” I think the hardest thing for Dad when he became ill was losing his ability to drive – it was a real kicker to his independence.
The other thing that Dad passed on to me was my love of rugby. He never played the game in my memory (mind you, he was 40 before I was born!) but he loved to watch the games. He’d have a quiet beer with my brothers (I’d get to sip the foam from his glass as a kid) and we’d all watch. He’d have loved watching the ABs this last couple of years, so I hope they do him proud in Dublin tonight.
Dad’s influence was subtle. He taught me maths when I was at high school because I had a teacher I wasn’t learning from. We moved in School Certificate year and thanks to him I was able to keep up with my new class and a teacher that I could finally learn from… and I got my second highest mark of School Cert in Maths! He taught me how to save money and budget and helped me when I bought my home, we worked through my limited options and picked one I could handle. He guided me buying tomato plants so I’d get good fruit, and although I really only had pots back then, now that I have inherited his garden, what I plant often reflects things Dad would grow and I can hear him talking varieties when I go to the seedling shop. (It helps that one of my brothers channels Dad in this way too… so if in doubt I ring him!).
So today as I head out into the sunshine to plant my corn, finally and to weed around the rest of the garden and deal to the tomatoes, Dad will be in my mind and heart.
I had Dad a lot in my mind in my trip to Europe this year too – because I went to visit his brother’s grave in Italy. It was a special day and it was Dad’s birthday (quite unplanned really) and I felt like he was watching over me the whole way. The trip was fraught with all sorts of possibilities due to the limited time we had to make the trip and so much could have gone wrong (we don’t speak any italian for a start) but it all just fell in to place and went smoothly. It really did feel like someone was giving us a helping hand.
I do feel lucky in that I do feel that both my parents are close to me and I do feel like they watch over me.
But regardless of that, Dad, I miss you.