Dad. In Memoriam.

8 01 2009
Dad and I, circa 1974 ?

Dad and I, circa 1974 ?

So, Christmas Day just gone, just before we are about to head off to lunch,I go to call my Dad back in NZ. 
This is a well established ritual , we may be separated by distance, but always enjoy a good catch up this time of year.
I get my stepmother on the phone, not exactly my favourite person in the world, but we are generally always cordial for his sake. ” Merry Christmas” , I say,” are you having a good one ? “
“Not really” she replies, “oh” says I , “whats happened ?”
“Your fathers passed away” she tells me.  Nine days ago.
Say What ?!
I was pretty well lost for words. What could I  say, on hearing that my father has died, been cremated, the funerals done and dusted and his 2nd wife decided NOT to inform any one of his last remaining blood relatives, namely his sister, my sister, and I ? Knowing full well of course, that I’d be calling on Christmas day to wish him well…
Ok. So we may not have enjoyed the  closest of family ties over the years.
My parents separated when I was 7, and we had sporadic contact over the years since, not helped when I moved cities from Christchurch to Auckland at 13, and 12 years later, to Australia.
But, we were still family.
As dysfunctional and distant a one as is possible to be maybe, but deep down there was always an acknowledgement that we were connected, and indeed, more than just by a common bloodline, but connected at an intrinsic level whereby we knew that despite distance and various petty acrimonies over the years, we still cared for each others well being and wished each other well.
Three years ago, Dad found out he had contracted a rare form of asbestosis, a lung cancer resulting from his early days as a motor mechanic, when replacing brake shoes in cars meant hand-drilling, riveting, and breathing in the fatal fibres of the asbestos linings, long before the hazards of the material involved was even understood.
My girls, my wife and I visited with him around then, the last time I saw him,  and followed his progress afterwards closely.  He underwent chemo, and as was always his way, downplayed the whole situation insisting he we was doing well, well enough in fact that all his doctors were amazed at his fortitude and subsequent recovery, even leading to a full remission.
We were told he was ” in the clear” and resuming his normal life with the vigour and energy he had always displayed.
So we kept in contact by phone, 2 or 3 times a year, always joking that it was our families way, which it was, while making plans for a surprise visit in February this year to celebrate his triumph over the big C.
But apparently, we were wrong. The cancer came back, as it does, over a year ago, and his wife and my step-family watched him gradually deteriorate over this time, without thinking to let us have an inkling.  And every time he spoke with me over the last year, I always asked about his health, and he always replied, that he was fine, in the best of form,  enjoying his retirement, sailing and relaxing with friends.
So you can imagine my somewhat surprise at his passing. Helped not at all by my stepmothers assertion that he died “broken-hearted” by my failure to keep in more regular contact over the last year.
So Christmas was a mixed bag this year. I am grateful that my girls at least got to meet their ‘poppy’ once before he passed, and know that both they and he cherished their brief time together.
My stepmother claims that she shouldered a terrible burden in not telling my sister and I of his ill health due to his wishes. I can almost understand elements of this ; he was indeed a stubborn individual and not letting on to his remaining blood relatives his true state towards the end I can certainly imagine.
But in his last days, with his faculties and reasoning failing, as far as I am concerned, her perceived duty of silence ended.  Her selfish wish to exclude his direct family and I from his death, as she so always tried throughout his life, may haved seemed at the time some small victory, yet I suspect, will ultimately fall somewhat short and shallow.
For me, I choose to remember the good times, and there were many. He may not have been the perfect father, and I know I was certainly not the perfect son by a long shot, and yet, we shared a bond that no one can take away.
The above photo is one of my few, and favorite, of us together.
Its probably the first time I ever sat on a motorbike. I like to think maybe this is where I first got the urge to ride.
I like to hope I didn’t get my fashion sense from the old man. Nice crimson trousers !
Cheers Dad. Thinking well of you. Always.
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10 responses

8 01 2009
yankeedog

Sorry to hear about your loss and the circumstances surrounding it. A shame that people have to be petty in a person’s last days.

8 01 2009
Moko

That’s shit mate. I’m sorry for your loss too. I’m sitting here steaming at your step-mum but you don’t need me saying what I think…

Best wishes to you and yours.

9 01 2009
jennicki

God, I am so, so sorry. I don’t even know what to say. I am just very, very sorry and sad for you. If you ever need to talk…jenjam321@yahoo.com. *HUG*

9 01 2009
drej08

Thanks YD, your well wishes mean a lot to me.
Moko, no probs with anything you’ve got to say man, I reckon we’re thinking the same thing :0
Jen, much appreciate the sentiment. As I said, we weren’t exactly super close, but I am lucky to have some good memories to cherish.

9 01 2009
bangarrr

My condolences as well Drej, Bangar.

9 01 2009
chazfh

I hate that sort of thing.

I’m sorry mate.

9 01 2009
abefrellman

Really really sorry mate. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go and give my 7 y.o. son a hug. Hopefully he won’t notice the tears.

9 01 2009
drej08

Thanks Bangar, Chaz.
Abe – exactly what I’ve been doing with my little ones lately. Look after your families folks. We only get the one.

21 01 2009
Snowgurl

Drej,

I am sorry to learn of your loss. I can only imagine how you must be feeling. Just think everytime you hop on your bike you will be transported back to happier times spent with your Dad. Great pic:)

With warmth and sympathies,
SG

PS I will advise when i start a new blog.

23 01 2009
drej08

Snowgurl, thank you very much!

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