Losing our parents is something most of us have to face at some point. It’s inevitable, a part of life. But, inevitable or not, it doesn’t make it any easier when that time comes, as it did for me recently.
I’m now officially an orphan, as is my younger brother, Neil, since we just lost our Dad, Horace (that’s me with my Dad, taken when I went back to see him in March of this year (2013). Not the best photo of my Dad, but it’s the last one I had taken with him, so it’s special to me). Our Mum, Ivy, passed away in 2007 far too young at age 77. Taken from us by that terrible disease, cancer.
A coal miner’s son
My Dad lived to the ripe age of 88, which, considering he had one of the toughest jobs on the face of the planet (he was a coal miner), was a bit of a miracle.
He worked hard and provided for our family, as did my Mum. In fact, I’ve probably never known a more hard-working couple, and I’m not just saying that because they were my folks.
They made sure we never wanted for anything, and, despite their hard work, they were always there for us.
My Dad’s health was failing over the last few years of his life, and he suffered from emphysema for quite a few years. But, he battled on regardless, knowing that one day he’d get what he really wanted, and that was to be reunited with my Mum up in Heaven.
Well, that day came on June 20th, 2013, when my brother, Neil, phoned me to give me the bad news that my Dad had passed away. I knew he wasn’t doing well and that he didn’t have much longer, so I’d already made a reservation to fly back to England and so flew out the day after.
I missed seeing him again, but not by much. Not that that’s any consolation, but I do take some comfort in the fact I went back in March to see my Dad for a couple of weeks.
The reason I went back then was because my Dad had almost left us a little earlier but managed to pull through, so I wanted to find out how he was doing.
I spent quite a bit of time with him, and it was good to see him doing relatively well. My Dad was a man of few words, so we didn’t say a lot, but just passed the time.
Regrets, I have a few
So, no, I didn’t get to see my Dad in the weeks leading up to his death, but I do take comfort in the fact I made that trip in March, when he was still in reasonable health.
I do have a few regrets where my Dad’s concerned, and I want to share them with you in case any of them strike a chord with you. Maybe you can do something about it while there’s still time.
1. My Dad and I were completely different people, and we didn’t get along that well as I moved into adulthood. I’m not sure just why that was. Our relationship seemed to deteriorate the better I did with my education and sporting and recreational activities.
Whether my Dad resented my success, or I got too big for my boots, or we just ended up having less and less in common, it’s hard to say.
Anyway, my point here is that I never took the time to find out why we drifted apart. I kept thinking, “I should ask him why he seems to resent me and everything I do, and why he wanted me to leave school, etc.”.
The problem was that we never really talked, and so I left it that way. Now, I’ll never know – at least, not in this lifetime.
2. Like I mentioned, my Dad was quiet and never had a lot to say. My Mum was just about the polar opposite, and I think I take after her more than my Dad, so I tend to get along better with people who are more outgoing.
We’ve all met people different from us as far as personality goes. And while we might not exactly see eye to eye, we generally get along with them, or we at least make the effort.
OK, this was my Dad, so it’s a bit different from just meeting somebody who’s not like you. Isn’t he supposed to just accept me as I am? After all, I am his son.
Well, it works both ways. And there’s a word for it – intolerance. That word brings to mind slavery and such barbaric things as that, but this isn’t much different.
3. When I was a kid, I used to love sport (still do) and played football (soccer) competitively from an early age. I played for my school team and was one of the youngest to do so, so I was very proud of that.
When we played, many of my fellow players’ parents would show up to the matches. I used to see that and wish I were one of them, because my Dad never did come to watch me play.
I know as a miner he had a really hard job, but still we’re only talking about a few hours of his time here. Looking back, I feel sorry for him that he missed out on sharing some of the greatest experiences of my young life.
That taught me a great lesson. I vowed I’d always be there for my kids and attend whatever they were involved in.
I’ve kept my word. Believe me, it makes a difference.
Love and respect
I hope you don’t get the impression from this that I didn’t like my Dad. Far from it, I loved him; he was my Dad and he gave me life, and I respected him for everything he did for us, his family.
We even told each other “I love you”, and I know he meant it, as did I. And I still do and always will.
I learned a lot from my Dad; not all good, but plenty that was. I don’t think I’d have survived 5 minutes doing the job he did. Yet, he did it for many years and retired as a coal miner. That deserves infinite respect.
Maybe this will affect or help you in some way. If nothing else, perhaps it will encourage you to enjoy not only the similarities you share with family members and other people, but also enjoy and appreciate the differences and what makes them special and unique.
R.I.P., Dad. Love always,
Thanks for letting me get this out. If you’d care to have your say, please do. And if you think somebody you know may be interested in this, don’t be shy about sharing.
If you’d like to see more posts in this category (Life), go here.