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Time Does Not Heal....

I'm 44.
My Dad died of a brain tumour when he was 30 back in 1973. I really don't remember much about him being only six when he died. I know we moved from our home in London to Hastings for his work a couple of years before he got ill. I remember him starting to have blackouts and one time rolling his Fiat 100 as a result of this. I also remember him passing out while he was playing with my younger brother and dropping him (my brother was unhurt). For some reason I remember that we had Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture on the record player at the time and when the ambulance turned up all the flashing lights and the crashing of the cannons from the record and the pouring rain has made a very lasting impression on me.

Don't remember much else until he went away to have surgery to remove the tumour. When the day came for him to come home I remember being really, uncontrollably excited - bouncing up and down all over the rooms I was. Then when he walked through the door it wasn't my Dad. He didn't know who I was, he could barely speak let alone dress or feed himself. Mum had to teach him everything from scratch and I didn't have a Dad any more.

My next memories come from when he was admitted to the hospice (St Christopher's in Sydenham). We still lived in Hastings so we had to make a 50+ mile trek to see him without a car. Fortunately my mum was friendly with the local taxi firm - you get that way if you have to make lots of trips to hospital. At this point it's probably worth mentioning that I was born with a club foot that required two operations and loads of physiotherapy while this was going on and my brother suffered a major bout of meningitis as well so we practically lived at the Royal East Sussex Infirmary (now called Conquest Hospital for tourism purposes). Anyway - the taxi firm would take us on the 100+ mile round trip to see Dad for free (at least that's how I remember it). I have very little memory of the hospice itself - I used to sit by Dad's bed and read him kiddies books (Mr Men was my favourite at the time). I have strong memories of him just lying there (by this time he was in a coma and on life support) and not responding to me in anyway. 

I remember the last day. I finished reading and mum took me to the waiting taxi. We got to the end of the Hospice driveway when a call over the taxi radio came for us to return to the hospice because Dad had passed away - because it came over a taxi radio it meant that every single taxi driver in the firm (along with the passengers) got the news of my Dad's death at the same time as us. I remember nothing else for a long time.

I wasn't allowed to the funeral - deemed "too young". I remember being a real pain at school, throwing a plate of ravioli on the floor and acting totally out of character (I was normally a very shy boy who stayed out of contact with others). Dad was buried in the municipal cemetery in Hastings in April 1973.

As I grew up I was constantly told that I was now the man of the house (at six years old) and that I had to look after my mum etc... This took its toll on me and by the age of eight I was an asthma and eczema sufferer and was diagnosed with a stress related duodenal stomach ulcer. I have never properly grieved and don't think I can now. We still visit his grave on occasion. A couple of weeks ago I took my fiancée to visit his grave. This was partly to let Dad know that I have finally found someone who likes me but mainly because I had hoped that having her with me would trigger the true flood of tears that I am certain I need to allow me to carry on living properly. I did cry quite a bit more than normal but still not as much as I think I need to.

I never really knew my Dad - for some reason fate decided I wasn't allowed to. I am now 14 years older than he was allowed to be yet in his short lifetime he married my mum and had two sons, had his own place to live and a good job. In 1.5 times that amount of time I've only just met my first girlfriend. I feel inadequate when I compare the chances I've had to those that he had. I miss him and don't understand why - he was never really there in the first place. I'm jealous of other people who still have their fathers and will never understand how families with children can split up.

I love you Dad and wish you could come back.
xxxx
Tinribs Tinribs 41-45 Sep 5, 2011

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