The 26th candle

Dear Dad,

You died today.

It doesn’t matter that it was in 1986; and although the raw pain has gone, I do and probably will forever get a pang of misery and regret when this day comes and I will, as I have done every year without fail, light a candle for you in a church.

That was a difficult year, such a difficult year. When your only sibling died that February, the pain etched on your face at his death was heartbreaking. You had that stunned look of disbelief and you must have thought about all those wasted years when you did not have much contact with each other due to stupid, stupid family nonsense.

His dying was the final straw; the catalyst that set in motion the countdown to you dying nearly eight weeks later.  There is never a good thing you can say about family dying but these events did bring our families closer, much closer than we had ever been when growing up.

Yours was the first dead body I had ever seen and even though I did not want to see you lying in your coffin, I was curious and you looked so peaceful; sleeping the permanent sleep.  When I bent to kiss your forehead, it came as a shock at how hard and cold your head was. Daft really, I mean, what did I expect? You looked so smart in your suit, and on the day of your funeral, when we were saying our last goodbyes, I placed the poem I wrote for you in your breast pocket next to K’s Star of David.

The turn out for your funeral was huge, not surprising really as you had met so many people during your life.  All your friends from the golf club, non golf friends and old family friends that you were still in touch with, professional acquaintances, the staff and Directors from your factory. And of course, most importantly, your family.  I sat and cried through the whole thing and could not sing Jerusalem, even though it was a favourite of yours.

The golf club you belonged to had its flag at half mast – mind you, you collapsing and dying whilst playing a round of golf must have shaken them up somewhat, bloody good job you were winning by the way!

It would have been nice however, if alot of those who professed to like you and Mum, had bothered to stay in touch with her after you died. She was dropped like a hot potato by so many who had greedily enjoyed her wonderful cooking and hospitality over the years, but then shunned her so quickly after your death. That hurt her very much Dad, and I often wonder how I would feel or if I would say anything to them if I met them again.

I know I was not easiest person to live with when I was growing up.  I had alot of the usual teenage shit to deal with and I truly believe that you saw alot of yourself in me so tried to curtail those more spontaneous outbursts.  Ah Dad, if only you knew the half of it, how sometimes you didn’t make it easy for me and I suffered at your words and actions.  But you know what?  I was not bad; I was confused and angry and I didn’t know why, I do now.

I wish that I could share with you all that I have discovered about your parents, particularly Granddad.  He hardly ever talked about his family so you did not know much and I have discovered such alot!  Did you know he was one of 10 children, and one of his brothers did not come home from the Somme?  I know that would have interested you and that you would have gone to Thiepval to pay your respects. K and I will do that one day, I promise.  I know that you always said that you had Polish ancestors through Nan’s family, but did you know that you also had German and Dutch?  K and I walked their London streets last summer and tried to imagine what it would have been like in their day.  Oh, by the way, the building where Nan was born still exists.

I got used to your absence a long time ago, and that was something I never thought would happen.  You were not perfect, you had many faults and it was not always easy having you as my Dad, but know that I loved you, still love you and have never forgotten you.

You always liked my poems Dad, and I wrote this for your funeral:

IN MEMORIUM

When death was one,
Your grief was great.
You pondered memories of your London past.

When death was two,
Your sorrow true.
Your feelings though, were sweet relief.

When death was three,
No words expressed
The silent tears wrenched from within.

Now death is four.
We bear the scars, our grief immense, our sorrow true.
We gather the ashes you leave behind and pick up our hearts as you want us to.

Several years later, when I was sorting my head out, many things became clear to me about myself and I wrote this by way of an apology:

DAD

You died too young,
I was not there
To rush into your open arms.
Tell you that I care.

My growing years were fraught with pain,
Could never find the love inside,
Display it as I ought.
I am that fool with much to hide.

I find the words you wrote to me,
Cannot stop the falling tears.
Reading them turns back the clock
Of how I wasted many years.

I light a candle every year,
Assuage my guilt, lest I forget
That you meant everything to me,
And I miss you yet.

I still love you very much,
This message is belated.
I was stupid then, but know I know,
It was never you, but me I hated.

Love M-A xx

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3 thoughts on “The 26th candle

  1. That is lovely. So glad you have happy memories of your dad. I know what you mean about widows being dropped; seen it time and time again. Widowers are still welcomed at social gatherings, but not widows. It’s very hard for them.

  2. I just wanted to say I’m sorry for your loss – it sounds like its still raw, and I count myself fortunate not to have experienced it myself.

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