It’s a year ago today since my dad died. I’ve tried to write this a few times but given up. I’ve run out of time now so it will be short & unpolished.
My dad was a railwayman. He started as a cleaner, then worked his way up through being a fireman to a driver. When he retired he was driving Intercity 125s from Doncaster to London and Edinburgh. He was an incredibly strong minded man. For years I had a totally distorted idea of how easy it was to give up smoking because my dad stopped overnight, going from thirty a day after the price was increased one budget. He declared he “wasn’t bloody paying that price” and stopped. He never smoked again but still carried cigarettes in his pocket for my mum.
Growing up with a father who did shift work was odd. On the railways you didn’t even get regular shifts. Although the shifts were still nominally mornings, afters & nights the start times could vary hugely, even from day to day. It also meant a fair bit of “playing quietly”, usually outside someone else’s house, when he was in bed. It did have its perks though. Working on the railways meant cheap or free rail travel so we went on holidays much further afield than many of the children I grew up with. (By which I mean Colwyn Bay, Poole and the Isle of Wight) Most holidayed in Cleethorpes, Bridlington and Blackpool.
I can recognise many of his traits in me. I have the same stubborn streak and the same need to be right, even when, sometimes I know, deep down, that I’m wrong. I try to keep a lid on that because I know how infuriating it can be when someone does that.
I’m starting to remember him as he used to be before his memory started to fail. In the last couple of years he had become frail and querulous rather than strong and argumentative. He wasn’t the easiest of men. He was opinionated and stubborn and could sometimes be a bit thoughtless but he always meant well and he cared. I have never had a moment’s doubt that my parents loved me as well as each other
My mum died eight years ago and my dad missed her so very much. He was genuinely devoted to her and never really recovered from her death. I remember when she became ill she was already worried about how much he was forgetting things. In the last year or so he was becoming increasingly frustrated at his poor memory and his confusion but he remained fiercely independent. Getting him to accept that he needed help was an uphill struggle. He was a typical proud Yorkshireman.
And I miss him.