Today is 9 years since my dad died.
I’ve written and re-written this post several times. I didn’t want the day to go unmarked, but I also don’t want to drag it all up again.
The story surrounding his death is far too long and painful to go into here; it wouldn’t be fair to my family, even the ones who have since insulted and disowned me, to recount it all. The short version is this:
He had a heart attack while he was on holiday in Spain in June 2004, and came back to the UK in a coma, with brain damage. They told us: “he’s in a coma. He has brain damage. We don’t know how much brain damage. We won’t know until he wakes up. We can’t guarantee he will wake up.”
Once the local hospital had done what they could with regards his heart attack, he was moved to a specialist brain injury unit in Bath, where he appeared to be making a reasonable recovery. Then he was sick in the night, and inhaled it. He was too weak to cough the vomit back up.
I wasn’t there when he died. I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting about in that nasty hospital waiting for him to die, so I left and went to Southampton to hide at a friend’s house. I stayed hidden there after he’d died too, and I spent Christmas there, hiding.
My dad was a lorry driver. As far as I know, apart from a brief spell working on roads, he drove lorries his whole life. He worked fucking hard. When I was small, he would often be away from Monday to Friday. If he did come home in the week, he would come through the door just as we were eating our tea, and be gone before we got up in the morning. When I was 9, my parents divorced and from then I only saw him on weekends.
My family is not close. We don’t talk about feelings. There are ridiculous family secrets going back years that are then casually mentioned in conversation as if you had always known them. I have five brothers and sisters, but it’s not unusual to go a week without hearing from any of them, or my mother. I am just as bad; I make little effort to keep in contact with my siblings. We have our own lives now and rarely socialise together. Two of my siblings don’t even speak to me any more, and several don’t speak to each other.
My dad’s death did nothing to bring us any closer; if anything, it pushed us further apart. I hid in Southampton while my sister did what she did as his executor. I don’t even know what happened to his things. I have some of his shirts upstairs, but they don’t smell like him any more.
Earlier this year, my older sister told me my dad was disappointed in me before he died. She said I only ever spoke to him when I wanted money, and it upset him. I’ve not spoken to her since, and I probably never will.
Not long after S was born, a friend’s mother, who knew my dad when they were teenagers, said to me, “I don’t mean to upset you, but if your dad was alive, he never would have allowed this to happen.” She was right; I’d thought it often enough myself.
I know my dad would have been disappointed that I allowed myself to get involved with a person whose family he knew (and not in a good way). He would be disappointed I allowed him to treat me that way; he would be disappointed I’d had a child out of wedlock. But he’d also be damn proud of me that I had the balls to do this alone. He’d be immensely proud of his granddaughter, and he would spoil her rotten. He would be the grandfather boring everyone else to death with photos and stories of his purported prodigy grandchild.
And he probably would have been the only member of my family I would have seen regularly over the last 18 months.