My Dad would have been 76 today. For his birthday I give him this: the overgrown field next to the campsite on the way to being transformed into a smallholding. He would have loved what we have done here. He would have loved all the animals. He would have totally thought having 7 cats was perfectly reasonable.
My Dad died just over 7 years ago and I didn’t grieve then. I couldn’t. The overwhelming emotion I felt was one of relief. I was relieved that he wasn’t suffering anymore. Relieved that I didn’t have to watch helplessly as he suffered anymore. For many years he had been in a lot of pain mentally and physically. He hadn’t wanted to live and undertook a slow, protracted suicide through alcoholism.
Then 8 months after he died I was diagnosed with cancer and then the BRCA2 gene mutation and there were operations, lots of operations. We took over running the campsite and started on this crazy, chaotic smallholding adventure and life filled up.
And there was never time to stop and think about how wonderful my Dad had been, to think how much he loved me. All through the years after my mum died when he was broken and didn’t want to live, I knew he still loved me. I couldn’t make things better and apparently nor could he. And although watching someone waiting to die is heart-breaking I knew he loved me.
So this Christmas I am giving myself a present. I am giving myself space to grieve and to remember what a wonderful person my Dad was. To remember him both before he was broken and afterwards. To remember his unconditional love and support for me. To remember all the things he taught me. To be grateful that I had such a wonderful Dad.