I’m lying in bed aching from the week of hedonistic socialising that I had to be greeted this morning by a sobering thought:
It’s been 11 years since I lost my father.
For me, this issue of time really puts things into perspective. For me, losing my father was truly a life changing experience. I know that it has affected me in ways I can’t even conceptualise. In all honesty, I don’t really think I have a reason to write this post. Other than I always talk about how great my father was, and is in my mind, one of the most wonderful people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
No one can deny the fact that he doted on me, perhaps creating this high expectation of affection I’m working on, ha. Of course, I only knew one side of him. That side was blurred by childhood enthusiasm and short attention spans. I was just happy to have a sweet man play with me as my mother cooked and my brothers were living their lives.
I cannot say for a second that he was the most moral person I have ever encountered. That would be a lie, what can nine years of uncertain memories and fantasies really say about a person? I’m not an idiot- every one that I will ever meet will have a life before and after me, regardless of consciousness or death. For now, all I can hold onto is the happiness and love that I feel so blessed to have received at such a delicate age.
After his passing my life was difficult, but that’s not the point of this. The point is that I had such a fantastic time that I am so lucky to have had. My father never spoke about marriages, or career aspirations, or even the issue of me playing in the mud and wearing jeans all the time. I was taken to art galleries and the London eye. Even as he was dying with cancer he played the simple game of “catch” with me in the garden as the sun set over our small home in North London.
I clambered onto his lap and said to him “dad, even though you haven’t got much hair left I still can’t count every single one of them!” He probably couldn’t hear me as the only thing he was doing was breathing at that point. I let him win at Connect Four and let him watch James Bond and Star Trek (even thought I couldn’t stand them). His dying days made me the most empathetic and intuitive I have ever been in my life. It makes me sad that I couldn’t articulate my love for him as a child. Sad, I feel, is the right word. If I was a child I would’ve hardly said “mournful” would I? I can’t say I believe in an afterlife, and that this is just my sentimentality speaking, but I can confidently say I will sugar coat every memory of him until my own deteriorates. He left me a story that I can weave and feel warmth whenever I relay it to my own loved ones.
The bitterness that I felt after his death subdued when I started university. I couldn’t help but feel his departure was to blame for financial troubles, homelessness, abuse, broken relationships, and mental health issues. Now that I have matured ever so slightly I am able to understand my family. I can understand the anger, the fighting, and the desperation. My family are not broken- I can see that they are stronger than ever. If they can’t see it for themselves then I will show them.
There are young children in my family now who have me as their Aunt. I’m disappointed that they’ll never meet my father and have the same sort of affection that I received from him. I was the youngest child by a mile therefore he had time to spend on me in his old age. Looking at my nephews and niece, I promised myself (and them) that I’d look after them and be there for them when they feel alone. I guess that’s the reason I feel so protective over them. That’s probably the reason I feel so protective over my mother now, too. However, years of tension have rendered me a bit emotionally stunted when it comes to the older generation of my family for which I am very regretful. It’s another thing which I am more than happy to work on. I am working on it and I’m seeing results.
I feel guilt for living something of a “double life” but I know my own father was not without his own adventures. I know how much I am like him- my family are always reminding me.
Truly, dates shouldn’t mean anything to me. Blog posts shouldn’t mean anything to me. It’s like I’m putting forth my fragility yet filtering it through what is and isn’t acceptable to say to the public. But I’m lying in bed recovering from a heavy week, looking at the disposable camera on my window sill and thinking “I should get the pictures developed today.”
Dad always converted the bathroom in North London into a dark room. I’d sit and watch him delicately dip plastic sheets of paper into the water. They’d turn into photographs later. He loved taking pictures of his family and friends. In his old age, I reckon he knew that nothing is permanent and he was trying to hold onto everything as much as he could.