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When a father leaves us.


I would like to send my condolences to David Cameron and his family as having lost my own father a couple of years back I know how devastating it is and how the loss never completely leaves you.

Many people have lost their dad, some to health problems, some to accidents and some to old age but all have to cope with the same gap that Dad filled in their life.

My dad was the fun in our life as we grew up. Mum would look after our day to day life making sure we were clothed and fed and emotionally balanced and dad would tickle us, chase us, play ball with us and cuddle us when we needed that big man hug. Don’t get me wrong, mum was full of cuddles too and fun but I seem to associate my dad with this aspect of my childhood more, maybe because he left home when we were still kids and therefore all of the discipline fell on mum’s shoulders as we journeyed through adolescence.

My dad came from a poor background growing up in London’s South Bank, now a trendy ‘it’ area but back then a quarter for Irish immigrants. He changed many jobs in his lifetime leaving mum strapped for cash and even without a house at one point but dad was dad and as kids we adored him, he could do no wrong.

He always knew what to say in every occasion and was convinced he could converse both with kings and paupers. One of his greatest sayings was ‘We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.’ which installed in me a sense of ‘Don’t worry, all in good time’.

Dad married twice and lost his second wife very suddenly returning from work one evening and discovering she had died of an ictus whilst exercising before work. He never got over that and the disaster sent him back into the world of escapism via alcohol that she had helped him leave years earlier.

Dad was on the road to self ruin and nothing me or my brothers said or did could stop him. He became devious, hiding evidence and lying to us on the phone. We would invite him for family get togethers and he wouldn’t turn up. We would get so angry with him. I would stop talking to him and only after discussions with Paul ‘He’s an alcoholic, he can’t help himself.’ would I phone and make up with him.

I never stopped loving him through all of this mess but I wanted to push him into doing something with his life.

Throughout my failed marriage Dad would call once a week and it was a lifeline for me. Many times I didn’t tell him about my problems as I was so happy to hear his voice and wrapped up in my own world and too young to know any better I never asked about his problems and his world.

On my return to the UK I was determined to make up for lost time but he had other plans, well he didn’t actually have any plans really. He just wanted to sit in his dirty flat and wait.

On one visit he pointed to a piece of paper from a notepad on the coffee table.

‘I’ve covered it all’ he said.


‘My funeral costs. And of course there’s a little something for all three of you too.’

‘Shut up Dad,’ embarrassed to be hearing this and uncomfortable with the conversation I moved on. Trouble is, in my heart, I never did. I was so angry with him inside, he was wasting his life away I even thought ‘He’d be better off in Heaven.’ at one point.

Then I got the phone call, ‘Dad’s passed away.’

Every fibre in my body screamed ‘Noooo!’ but calmly I replied to my brother. ‘I’ll tell work and get to you as soon as I can.’

WThe three of us spent two days registering his death, emptying his council flat and sharing out his fully stocked freezer!

The boys kept his Arsenal t shirts to clean their cars with (they supported Chelsea, something my dad never fathomed out but accepted) I took a few ornaments I’d given him, a plant which still thrives to this day and a print called ‘Footprints in the sand’ that hung in his hall.

But no object can replace the man I lost and no plant can comfort me as he used to. I’d rather have him back and be angry with him that not have him at all.

Have you lost someone close to you? Tell me about it if you’d like to share, how do you feel about it now?

Photo autumn_leaf

16 Comments leave one →
  1. Jean permalink
    09/09/2010 11:17 am

    Very expressive post. And coincidental, as today I’m heavy with thoughts of the loss of my parents, it being my mums birthday today.

    Regarding the loss never leaving; only the other day I almost had a cry when I saw a pic of my bro looking just like my dad (although Nigel was wearing a green ladies two piece suit in the picture, not something my dad would have done I hasten to add!). Poignant, as my brother has had a hard time dealing with their loss and resolving the legacy of emotional expression, or lack of, which we inherited.

    Each time an anniversary, birthday, mothers day, fathers day, comes up I do find it brings with it those feelings again, often of all those lost; son, his dad, parents. I cant’ say it’s not difficult, I tend to withdraw when they happen, but am soon back in the light. I have good peoples around me.

    Those experiences have certainly made me more appreciative of my lot, as the lyric goes, “Life may sometimes be sad, but it’s always beautiful.”


    • 09/09/2010 1:22 pm

      It does make you more appreciative, you’re right and maybe the missing bit is expressing the love held in your heart that never disappears.
      Big (((hugs))) to you xx

  2. 09/09/2010 1:29 pm

    Oh My this has set off my tears again, you are so right, this time of the year is hard for me, as it is the build up to my dads death. I miss him everyday

    • 10/09/2010 8:36 am

      Big hugs to you too. Maybe, just maybe sometimes tears are good. Getting ‘it’ out of your system, releasing pent up thoughts. It’s good to acknowlege the pain and the loss and helps us come to terms with it more. I think xx

  3. 09/09/2010 10:02 pm

    Awwww, Mari. Hugs. x

  4. 06/12/2010 12:16 pm

    What a stunning and lovely tribute to your dad..thanks for writing it…
    over from blog gems..

    • 07/12/2010 9:28 am

      Thank you Kathleen. Once I have a second free I’m going to read lots of other gems too, including yours, see you later 🙂

  5. 07/12/2010 7:07 am

    Hi, coming over here from BlogGems. As the prompt for this one was “pick a post that makes you smile” I was expecting something in the sweet/funny vein, but can see this is a different, wistful & sad sort of smile. But that happens to be right up my alley, as for me blogging was propelled by my trying not to be crushed in the process of losing my father to a long drawn out intense death. So father loss is one of my big themes on my blog (that and parenting a pair of special needs 8 year old twins)

    As he died less than a year ago (last March) I still write about my father a lot, as this is our “year of firsts” without him. This is the exact time last year that he went into the hospital and we went into the serious endgame with him, so all last year’s holiday memories are swirled up with my father beginning his dying process. I am thinking about him a lot right now. When they sent him home from the hospital in mid-December they said he would last for a few days, a few weeks at most. He passed in mid-March.

    I loved my father very much and he was a big influence in my life. He was nearly 93 when he died, and had been fading for years, so by the time he passed it didn’t quite feel like losing a father since the roles had been reversed and I’d been taking care of my parents like an extra pair of giant children for some time.

    If you want to know a little more of how I felt at the time of his dying, come read my post “Nearly Finished Business” from early last March on my blog: The Squashed Bologna: a slice of life in the sandwich generation ( )

    • 07/12/2010 9:33 am

      Varda, I am going to confess. I Have only just remembered after your post that there was a prompt! I was in such a hurry and so determined to participate in Blog Gems that after hunting for a post I lost the fact there was a prompt and added the one that tugs at my heart strings. It does have a smile as you say at the end but next time I will be more careful; (she says confidently) thanks for coming by. I am hoping today allows more time for blog hopping 🙂

  6. 07/12/2010 5:52 pm

    lovely tribute to your fathers
    Fathers really are awesome

  7. 08/12/2010 10:52 am

    I lost my Dad in 2004 and Mum in Spetember this year. Dad died suddenly and there were many things left unsaid. Mum died 6 days after being diagnosed with terminal cancer but we had the chance to share some wonderful times with her in that last week.

    PS – I’m here from Blog Gems too

    • 09/12/2010 1:27 pm

      Oh Laurie, that is so sad. Thansk goodness you have some fun memories of that last week, a bitter sweet comment yours. Big hugs to you xx

  8. 09/12/2010 6:27 pm

    This did make me smile, as well as pull at my heart strings:) I smiled because it is lovely to be reminded that we all have great capacity to love and forgive and that is what makes the world go around:) Jen (thanks for joining in blog gems)

    • 09/12/2010 8:17 pm

      Thank you for coming by, I miss him as much as he angered me when he was here, catch 22 situation 🙂

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