Some days stick in your mind. On June 3rd 1980, when I was getting on for 6, I got off the school bus and arrived home to find the front door wide open – which was unusual. My mum was waiting for me in the living room. She was sat on the armchair nearest the patio door. She pulled me onto her lap and told me my daddy had died in a car crash. (When you’re 5 it’s still “daddy” isn’t it.)

As a result I don’t have many memories of my dad. These are they:

  • Him pushing me on my swing – feet first. I always thought that was brilliant.
  • “Helping” him reverse the car off the drive in Stirchley. (Probably my earliest ever memory since we moved to my current home when I was 3.)
  • That he would sometimes be in bed at odd hours of the day because he worked shifts.
  • Playing doctors with my dolls. He wore his lab coat (he was a metallurgist). I remember getting one doll’s hair caught in the hair dryer and panicking and him sorting it out.
  • I remember a couple of arguments between him and my mum. I don’t remember what they were about, but I remember my mum pulling me onto the sofa with her.
  • He smoked.
  • Him drawing. He could draw reasonably well – so can I.
  • Him on the piano.  He could play and pick things out by ear – I can hold a tune.
  • Ripping paper off the walls of the house I still live in. One wall of what is my room was papered with layers and layers of magazine posters.

These are all silent memories. I can’t remember what he sounded like and I wish I could. I got excited a few years ago when I came across a cassette recording of my mum and dad’s wedding. Yes, an audio recording. Apparently that’s what they did in the early 70s. However, when I played it I couldn’t hear anything of him. So, that’s something else I seem to have in common – being quietly spoken. Amusing but being extremely disappointing at the same time.

My dad’s funeral was 9 June 1980 – I didn’t go to it. I have a feeling I didn’t go to school either. I think I spent the day at the house opposite where my friend Emma and her brother Chris lived. Emma would have gone to school as she was a year older. Chris wouldn’t have been at school since he was a year younger. I remember having beans on toast for tea at their house though. I wonder where they are now. (Emma and Chris I mean – not the beans.) My first cousin was also born that day.

I don’t miss my dad – I don’t remember enough about what he was like to be able to if you see what I mean.  I think I miss the idea of having a dad. Cards at birthdays and Christmas, someone to show me how to put air in my car tyres and check the oil is okay, someone to pop round and put up that shelf or move that heavy whatever for me, etc.   (I’m sure there’s more to being a dad than helping you do stuff though!)

My mum did not have the best of tempers and I often wonder if he went off for a drive late at night to cool off after an argument. I have to admit, after my mum died, having been the on the wrong end of her tongue more times than I care to remember (for no reason at all mostly), I kind of assumed that must have been the reason and put him as the wronged party.

I’ve since learned that he may not have been quite the evenly balanced person I had in mind. He seems to have had certain “issues”. He was apparently terrible with money and had run up a lot of debt and made nasty threats against the bank manager etc. I guess this is probably what the arguments were about. I was disappointed in him when I learned this. Not quite the long-suffering person I’d imagined – but I guess he was just human with faults like the rest of us.

While my memories of my mum aren’t exactly fond, I’ve been ‘grown up’ long enough now to appreciate that it can’t have been easy being a single parent. She sorted the money mess out. I knew nothing about it. I was aware we weren’t quite in the same financial league as my friends, but I never ‘went without’ or anything – I did plenty of activities – dancing lessons, piano lessons etc. We had holidays, etc. I never went hungry or without clothes or anything!

Anyway… that’s all in the past. I’m just being a bit self-indulgent. I’ll leave it here.


2 Responses to “Memories”

  1. 1 Thursday September 1, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Splendidly written Nezza – I could almost hear your voice, quiet as it may be, telling me the bits and pieces of memories as they bubbled to the surface of your mind.

  2. 2 uphilldowndale September 4, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Some told me that children who are bereaved need to keep ‘revisiting’ the loss as they get older and their perceptions change, this is not a self-indulgent post, not one little bit.

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