This time 3 years ago I had the devastating news that my Dad had died.
No illnesses (that we knew of, it turned out he had bronchial pneumonia and emphysema, not a shock when you smoke for 40 years).
Just woke up one morning, went down to make a cup of tea, and died.
I last spoke to my Dad three days earlier, the day me and my (then) fiance had come back from a 3 week holiday. Where we had gotten engaged, so talk was of holidays (he and my Mum had just come back from Cuba, whereas we had been on an adventure in Argentina and Brazil), upcoming weddings, my new engagement and potential for a big family holiday the year after for my 30th and my Dad’s 60th.
I also had a secret. That morning I had found out I was pregnant with the toddler terror. And we planned to tell no one until 12 weeks. I had plans to email a photo whilst on the phone to my Mum and Dad and see if they could work it out.
But then, Dad spoiled those plans. And he said he didn’t like being in the limelight (a fact we all knew not to be true, he was the first and worst on the karaoke!).
You still go through all the stages of grief. Even 3 years later.
It is not fair that I lost my Dad when I was 29 and my brother when he was 26.
It is not fair that my Mum became a widow when she was only 54.
It is not fair that the toddler terror never got a chance to meet him, nor he a chance to be a Grandad.
It is not fair that my Auntys and Uncles lost another brother.
It is not fair that my Dad’s friends lost him.
And I still get angry with him. Because he is missing out on so much. And then I feel guilty about it, then remember my Dad. And I bet he is just as angry at himself for missing out on all of this.
I am angry that he never met the toddler terror.
I am angry that he never saw us emigrate to Dubai (he would have loved the sunshine and the crazy things that we do)
I am angry that he never walked me down the aisle (though my Mum had a lovely suggestion of putting a photo in my bouquet so he did in effect walk me down the aisle along with my brother)
And then I need to remember, that while those things may not be fair, and while it IS okay to be angry, I am looking at it all wrong.
I am grateful that I had a close relationship with my Dad for 29 years (obviously not including the turbulent teenage times), that I was a Daddy’s girl. And to remember the stories that I will tell the toddler terror.
Such as the time I was so skint at Uni, I rang home to beg for £20 to be put in my bank account. And got Mum on the phone. And Dad wasn’t home. And, poof, my plan went to dust and I had to explain a lot more to Mum about why I needed the money, and that yes, I was in the pub at the time of speaking to her (and fair play Mum walked the bank and put the money in and more than I requested).
The times he took me car shopping even though all he really knew about cars was to kick the tyres…..
The way that he told me time and time again that I could do anything I set my mind to, and, in the next breath telling me why he hated hiring women (controversial!).
I am grateful that the cause of his death was enough for my Mum to give up smoking after 30 years.
I know my Mum is grateful for the near-30 blissful years of marriage.
I know my Auntys and Uncles are grateful for the time with him, as were his friends.
And I know that the toddler terror, and the new bump, will get to know him too. As long as we all keep remembering and telling the stories. The toddler can already point to his picture and say “Grandad”.
And I am proud.
I am proud of the person I became because of lessons learnt through him. How I learnt to be kind, how I learnt to stand my grand, how he always bigged me up to be the best that I can be though often contradicted himself, how he taught me it wasn’t nice to hit but if someone hits you HIT THEM HARDER, how he taught me to always stand up for what I believe in and, more importantly, to stand up for others who need help.
In short, I am proud that he was my Dad.
Just because someone is dead doesn’t mean they are gone.
And I must remember this.
And be grateful for the time we did have.
This one is for you Dad x
Leslie John Evans 21st July 1953 – 8th February 2012