If you go South over Westminster Bridge, and turn left- East, that is- you go down some steps to the South Bank walk: nice places to eat inexpensively, the National Theatre, Tate Modern, jugglers and buskers. I should not have walked ahead, and stopping, waiting, long before he caught up I should have gone back, to see what was going on. On those steps, my father had fallen, and someone had helped him up. He fell quite a bit, actually. I blamed him. I was embarrassed by it. He fell once in Edinburgh at night, after we had a meal or a concert or something together: a bloke saw us out the window of a wee restaurant and clapped and waved, thinking my father was ratarsed. A passer-by helped him up.
That weekend in London I had not quite realised that he wanted to see a particular exhibition, rather than some generic art gallery, so we saw the National Gallery permanent display- impressive, but not quite the same. He had not wanted the theatre, but I did, so booked that day. Brecht: not fun enough for a fun show, not serious enough (in my view) to be satisfyingly high brow, it was alright. God it’s been such a long slow goodbye- the next year, he could not have done it.
I wanted to look after him, and he wanted to look after me- that is, to be the big brother, making the decisions, the dominant one-
or to actually be looking after. We took the bus into Edinburgh last September, and we wanted to be looking after the other: I fussed officiously with his walking frame, and he paid my fare.
Little squabbles and little minor irritants and you could really get to care about them and alternatively you could push them into the background- on that bus trip, he stood before the bus had come to a stop, which pleased me, he was not so frail after all. Minor irritants and major irritants, and the major irritants matter
and I remember it all. Nothing need be denied.
I loved him, and he loved me.
Sorry to hear about your dad, I think he died when I was offline, so didn’t get a chance to say at the time.
“Minor irritants and major irritants, and the major irritants matter and I remember it all. Nothing need be denied.”
That’s interesting, so many people choose only to remember the good bits and everything becomes very rose-tinted. But I guess missing someone is more about the good times and the irritants naturally fade.
With my mother, I chose two particular lovely memories to be my main memories of her, and worked through other feelings later: seven years after with a healer, I imagined her in her deathbed and I strode round it, screaming my anger at her. Seven years after that, I came to understanding and acceptance: that is, fourteen years after her death, in my mid-forties, I could remember everything about her. Having done that work, I can with my father.
Hard to say why I like this post, but I do. Honest, and showing both of you, both different.
Even when it was a bit crap, it was alright. I love my father. I do not need us to have been any other way.