My Dad is strong, fearless and brave. Those were the opening words of my eulogy for my Dad and those were the words I'd written in my exercise book when I was 8 years old. It was accompanied by a picture of Batman...another hero.
There are not enough words to describe him. I said that too. How can you condense a persons life into a few paragraphs? When I sat down to write his eulogy I found I couldn't stop. I had my memories and I wanted everyone to know what a great man he was. It was easy, because I knew and loved him.
Losing a parent when you're an adult is strange feeling. As you get older you know the inevitable is going to happen but you consign it to the back of your mind in the hope you'll deal with it. Fleeting ideas pass through your mind. How would one parent cope without the other, or how would you cope without one of them? The little things they do as they get older is a reminder of their mortality. The general loss of confidence as they get older. Their slight slowing down. Their little ailments that seem to become more frequent, the questions they'd constantly ask about the Internet and technology, and all the things they kept forgetting and all the things from the past that they remembered....more than once!
Which one you'd prefer to go first?
How can you think like that?
But you do.
They became a tiny bit more dependent on us. How did all that happen? None of it stopped them from enjoying their life and none of it stopped us from loving them but you hope you won't have to deal with the inevitable.
It's something you don't want to think or talk about.
When the inevitable did happen the world stopped turning for a few minutes. I couldn't think. I couldn't talk. I needed to sit and assimilate the words. I know my brother did too. He told me he'd have to phone me back because he couldn't think.
My dad passed away overseas and we all needed to get to my mum as quickly as possible. We needed to be with her that night but the flights had already left for that day it seemed like an insurmountable task given the state we were in. My sister had found a flight to Finland with a connecting flight to our destination. She wanted to take it. Her husband was pushing her to take it. The chances were she'd be stuck on her own, in a place she'd not be able to leave were higher than I wanted. I wanted us all to go together. Let me think I said. I'll work it out. So I did. We were all with my mum by midnight having taken planes, trains and automobiles.
I've found it hard to cry and but I think it's too big. I know if I cry I might never stop. Tears seep when something moves me. I weep when I hear of someone else's sadness and I cry at a sad tune on the radio, but I can't cry for Dad. If I give into the grief that I'm holding in my heart then I would be giving in to the madness which might engulf me...and that would be no help to anyone.
Spending time with mum has helped me. Over the past couple of years I've realised that caring for others in the same situation helps me greatly. It helps me understand my grief, sadness or pain by seeing it reflected back at me. Obviously, helping mum is the right thing to do, but being with her I know that it's also helping me.
A friend once said that caring for a parent is an honour and a privilege. It is. I see that now.
She's having to start all over again, after having had Dad in her life longer than not and she's finding it difficult. Of course she is. She's never been a weak woman but losing dad has sucked the life from her. She's weak right now. She has no idea how life works without dad. But she'll get there.
My Dad taught us to be strong, fearless and brave. I think we're living up to his legacy.