Saturday, 11 December 2010

A handful of summers

My dad,holding my daughter for the very first time

My lovely dad died two weeks ago,today.

Despite being infirm and unwell for a very long time,his death was still,-in the end-, unexpected.
And hurts more than I could have imagined.

He seemed to be impervious to the usual tribulations of serial CVA's and chest infections that beset so many frail older patients.
Whilst his last admission to hospital seemed to be just another step along the inevitable path,it didn't seem particularly dramatic.
I left his bedside at about 0400 and by the time I got back to my hotel he had passed away peacefully in his sleep.

He was a 'gentle man' who took joy in simple pleasures...his family,particularly his grandchildren...'Punch' magazine...good food...tinkering in the garage...shouting back at the television.
He was also profoundly spiritual,converting to Judaism from Catholicism in his 40's.

An only child to a single mother,he grew up during WW II;he left school at 11 and started an apprenticeship as a blacksmith,the job he did until he retired...when he started to care for my mother.
He served six years in the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers,18 months of that in Korea.
His stories were legend-one of his favourite stories was how his time in Korea was largely spent making fake samurai swords from the springs of Bedford trucks,which he would sell to gullible Americans!

He always had an original and contrary opinion,once describing Elvis as a 'cringing liberal poofter' ;and when I told him I wanted to pursue a career as an Army nurse,he bluntly told me that I 'shouldn't waste my life sticking needles in the hairy arses of thick squaddies'...but of course,he supported my decision anyway.
He was always my go-to person.

He had a hard life...and I suppose now...being back in the UK and having had some time to think about him...I am struck that no matter how much life we think that we will be given;no matter what we might wish or hope or pray for,or even succeed in attaining;no matter who we love or who ever chooses to love us back...that in the end all we are ever really given, is a handful of summers.

He was selfless in his love for his family.
He was my quiet hero.
He was my moral compass.
He was my dad.

I miss him.

Good night Dad.


  1. My sincere condolences - I too recently lost my mum after a long illness and it does not matter how much it is 'expected', nor how much it may be a release from ill health, it is still hard.
    We are taking comfort from remembering the good, healthy and happy times but that void will always be there - even though we are adults.
    Cherish those summer memories!

  2. My condolences. Nothing else to say.

  3. I'm so sorry...

    That is a great picture. He looks heroic, like a Kirk Douglas.

  4. Coming out oh hiding to send you a hug.
    I lost several members of my family in the last few years, I know how it feels.

  5. I am sorry. He sounds like quite a character.