Friday, 17 December 2010

Today is the day...

... that I said good-bye to you for the last time. I didn't know that I would leave you, and Mum sat there with you, and that you'd be gone within 2 hours, forever. I knew it wasn't right but the prognosis was a few days and I had to come home to go to work.

Before I left, I made sure that someone was on their way to be with Mum for a while. After all, she hadn't planned to come and see you today but something made us come and see you. I called Carolyn and she made plans to come and see you straight away.

I left, fully expecting to be called back in a day or two. I was two-thirds of the way home when my phone rang with a voicemail message. I pulled into the next services and it was Mum asking me to ring her. She was very matter of fact when I spoke to her but she told me that you'd gone. Carolyn was still on her way - she never made it. I didn't know what to do. I rang my friend, just to talk to somebody and tell them. I drove the rest of the way home in a daze.

I knew it was coming.We'd known for a while that the end was nigh. I knew what Mum's wishes were in terms of your treatment. I knew it would happen. However, that last day was a shock. Even from the day before, the deterioration was visible. We didn't know what you did and didn't know anymore anyway. All I know is that you knew my voice, and the staff said that you were always brighter after I'd visited. That morning, when I said good-bye, I told you it was OK to go now. I just didn't think it would be so soon.

For a long time, I didn't really feel anything. We coped - over Christmas, with your funeral looming over the festive season, through the funeral on a clear but snowy day, when I cried but only a little bit. I started a new job in a dreamlike state a few days later. For months, I was not in a good place, with being away from home a lot and other issues in my life. I began to feel like I'd been abandoned, although I wasn't angry with you for that. How could I be? I was a mess emotionally for a good few months until I gave myself the proverbial kick to get on with life. It was what you would have wanted me to do, cliché that it is.

Since then, I have got married and had two children - your only grandchildren, although you have four beautiful step-grandchildren that you loved as your own. You would have been so proud. They would have loved you to bits and Missy Woo would have had you wrapped around your little finger. I think it was then that the loss of you really hit home to me. They are beginning to understand now that you're not around - Monkey asked me once why you always went away we went to stay at Mum's. It broke my heart that they thought you didn't want to see them. I had to explain that you were somewhere you couldn't come back from, although I think they might still think you are in Devon. Given the chance, you would still be there with them, playing with them, giving them sweets and taking them out on day trips.

Every now and then, like tonight whilst I am writing these words (and others in the past) the tears start to flow freely. It is when the emotion really overtakes me. I think too hard, that's the trouble.

Because you were the man, the constant in my life from birth. Having suffered a loss of a stillborn baby, you had no way of knowing if I would be born alive but I was and you chose my name. You raised me along with my sisters and worked long, long hours to pay the bills. You let me get on with living my life, to make choices and to make my own mistakes, from a fairly young age. You were there for me but you weren't critical - you just accepted what I did and supported me through it.

I graduated on your 51st birthday. You were so, so proud that day. No-one in our family had ever been to University. You looked fit to burst.

Ten years. Ten long years. In that time, my life has changed beyond recognition. I wonder if you ever thought I would become a mother. I wonder if you would be proud of the person I have now become, of the things I do, of my lifestyle. I suspect, knowing you, that you'd be mostly proud, but you wouldn't comment on the rest. You wouldn't see it as your place to do so.

Today is the day you went away, ten years ago. Fate and life has been cruel, meaning I can't have time to myself today, gathering my thoughts and memories of you. I need to mark this tenth anniversary in some way but I'm not sure quiet contemplation will be possible. Perhaps I should spend some of the day hugging my children and showing them that I love them. For the biggest tribute I can pay to you is to love them as much as you loved your own children, to raise them knowing they are loved, that they know it's OK to make mistakes, and to be the kind of parent that you were to me.

I miss you, Dad, but I am so proud of you, of the man you were as well as the Dad you were to me. You live on in our memories and in the people we became. And for that, I thank you.

Rest in Peace, Dad.

Brian Thomas Giles 10th July 1935 - 17th December 2000
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