Death is devastating. It obliterates the very foundation of your life and leaves you rudderless and adrift. But when death comes knocking, it also has the power to heal.
I don’t think my dad realised just how much he was loved, admired and respected until last year. Shortly after he came out of hospital after the heart attack last year, I went to visit him.
He was grumpy, as usual, and in pain. I asked him if he would go and see a doctor. He snapped at me “ I wish people would just leave me alone.” Something broke inside of me and I snapped back. “You know what Dad. You are a miserable old shit, but what you don’t understand is that despite that, people love you and still want you around”. He just stared at me.
My relationship with my dad was complicated and often difficult. There were times when I know I was a disappointment to him. There were times where we never spoke because of the challenges between us.
I can be stubborn, bolshy and difficult. Gee. I wonder where I got that from?
But through all that, he never knew just how much I loved him. How much I depended on him. Even when we were fighting, he was still the person I turned to when I needed advice.
After his heart attack in June last year, things changed between us. The brush with death softened both of us. He phoned me one night, and we ended up having a two hour conversation on the phone. Two hours? You were lucky if you got 30 seconds of his time on the phone before that. Normally it was “ You and the kids doing ok? Good. Okay. Bye”.
We talked about what he had experienced while in hospital. We talked about my brush with death 15 years ago. We then discussed personality types and he made me do a personality assessment and showed me his results. We were polar opposites in every sense in terms of the way we see the world. It made sense, as to why we clashed so often.
I am so profoundly grateful for the last 18 months. I finally had the relationship with my father that I had desperately wanted for so long.
A while ago Tracey asked him if he had any regrets in his life. He said his biggest regret was that his three girls were not talking to each other. I am happy to say that we have fixed that.
Tracey and I spent the whole of last Sunday with him. He was very weak and needed constant help. While I was sitting with him, I told him that Brigs sent her love and mentioned that we were in a WhatsApp group together. He looked at me in surprise and said “You and Brigette are talking?”.
I said yes, and he smiled. He held my hand. I don’t ever remember him holding my hand, but that day he did.
I will love you forever Dad.