19 August 2006

Dad

It’s almost twenty seven years since my father died. I swear that not a single day has gone by in all that time without me thinking of him. In a way, it’s like he haunts me. He was born in Malton, North Yorkshire in 1914 so if he had been alive today he would, of course, have been a very old man. And yet I still miss him.

When he died in 1979, the village church was absolutely packed for his funeral service. I tried to sing “The Lord’s My Shepherd” but my voice quavered with emotion, refusing to be reined in – so frustrating because I wanted to sing it out for him, clear and beautiful. Instead I heard this strange garbled version of the psalm emerging from my choked voice box.

He was a good man. He did so much for the local community – little unsung acts. He was a church warden. He was President of the cricket club. When there were national or local elections, he ran the polling station. He successfully campaigned both for a youth club for local kids and drove the campaign to buy land for a village playing field and sports club. He discovered that the village church had ignored the wishes of a nineteenth century landowner by selling fields that were intended to provide bursaries and scholarships for village children. He won the case and established an educational trust. As I say he was a good man.

I was the third of his four sons but towards the end we were like mates together. I know that he saw much of himself in me. We talked about injustice and books and people. He told me about his war years in India and about his teacher training in York in the nineteen thirties.

Badge


I was the last person in our family to see him alive. He was in hospital in Hull. He had already suffered a massive heart attack. He was heavily sedated and he stuck out his yellowed tongue, uncharacteristically requesting a double whisky. His eyes were like black pearls staring out at me. He was already not himself and the next morning he was gone.

Every day I think of him. He got us up in the morning. He put breakfast out for us. He took me to see my first Hull City match. I helped him to plant potatoes. He found me collapsed in a drugged up drunken stupor when I was seventeen. He gave me my first tie before I embarked on my first teaching practice. He gave me some simple rules for living that I will never forget.

It hurts that he never met my wife and children. It’s like a shadow in my life. He would have been the best granddad ever. He was my dad and I loved him dearly. I don’t even have a photograph of him to share with you. Instead, I give you the school badge of Malton Grammar School where he was boy.

7 comments:

  1. Thank you for this memorial to your dad.

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  2. I'm deeply touched by your touching memorial to your Dad.

    It's nice that you have so many good memories.

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  3. What Alkelda and Dawn said.

    Really moving stuff.

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  4. What a wonderful post.

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  5. Wonderful Pudding, I still miss my maternal grandmother. She was such fun!

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  6. Squirt12:49 pm

    Memories are wonderful. He will always live on in you and onward shape your childrens live. x

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  7. That's a very very moving post.

    My father died in 2002 and I echo many of your sentiments.

    My father's death was unexpected, he got up one morning, told my brother that he felt dizzy, and collapsed into a chair. He died before the ambulance arrived.

    I'd not seen him for six weeks as he'd been on holiday with my mother. He got back two days before and I so very nearly went to see him. Of course I kick myself for not doing so, but in truth he was tired from the travel.

    Anyway, I'm wandering! Excellent post.

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