November 2014

The day my father died and the lesson he left me

It was a year ago today that I received a call that we all may come to expect but is still a shock. The voice down the line was my stepmother from America, crying and screaming. “He’s dead, he’s dead! Your father is dead”. “How?” I first asked without realising that how he died was of little consequence. I set about the task of telling the rest of my family here in the UK.

After the calls and with a good measure of rum in a glass I sat down and started to think about my father life. He had made a choice not to be with my mother when I was 15 and that had made me mad and bitter for quite a long while. Nobody could understand the choice at the time and we were not in an emotional and financial position to just pick up the pieces and start again. But over time I came to forgive my father and find peace with the situation. I had gone through worse and was still going to go through other times that would test me so holding a grudge was never an option and in life it never should be.

At the times that I met with my father he always seemed far more happy, adventurous and settled as a person. In fact far more than he had been in his time here in the UK.

And then the penny dropped. He was doing exactly what he want to do without fear or judgement. It had seemed as if he found the kind of freedom that we all crave. That balance we all talk about but do not quite reach because of our fears.

My stepbrother Mark summed it up perfectly when he said to me last year that my dad “…did it his way…” and that is the one lesson I strive to take from all of this.

At some point we all need to do it our way. Walk from the toxic if it cannot be silenced. Stand tall everywhere in everything you do. Make sure your voice is heard however you may express yourself and keep on keeping. Forward motion everyday no matter how small that movement seems.

One day we all will be stopped in our tracks. Never make that day the time you are enjoying on earth. And enjoy it, for all of its waves of happiness and hardship, we must. It is our duty.

Rest in peace dad. Here’s to doing it our way.