This is not a pity post. I am not announcing any groundbreaking news. I am not the first and certainly not the last person to approach Father’s day with no father. However, this is the first year I will not be buying any Jelly Babies, there will be no trip to the sweet shop to buy any liquorice whirls. The usual card with a golfer on the front or a dad in an armchair with a pint will remain on the shop shelves.
I thought that I had Mother’s day covered when I had my own children (Mum died ten years ago). The kids gave me a day to look forward to (although I do choose to be childfree for the day, reading the papers in peace and not out for lunch with them), rather than one I had previously dreaded. I was wrong. This year, one company was bombarding me with emails “Treat your mum to some bath oils”, “let your mum know how special she is”; you get the picture. I emailed the head of marketing. Yep, I really did. I said that whilst I did not object to being sent what seemed like hundreds of Mother’s day emails from companies I had once stupidly gave my email address to; it was the wording of their particular emails that was like a dagger in the heart each time I read the subject title. I did receive an empathetic response from the company in question. They probably thought that I was an over sensitive idiot but I felt better for getting it off my chest. NB. I have never written to a company before like this which shows how upset it had made me.
Back to Fathers day. My speed wobble with Mothers day this year means I am not getting too clever about being okay on the day. I have been busy making cards from the boys for D. We will give him breakfast in bed and he will get a long lie in. I will miss Dad and that’s okay. I am going to remember him and cheers him (any excuse for a prosecco). He would hate me to be so sad; but I know that he would understand too.
My friend was stood at the photocopier at work this week. “Don’t forget to buy your dad a card” her co-worker said. She replied; “I think of my Dad everyday, he is no longer with us and Fathers day is simply a reminder of this.” When relaying this story to me she said that he had looked at her like she had a disease. I totally agree with her. There is no greater conversation stopper than death. Telling people you have lost a parent is like inflicting pain onto them (you can see the look of horror written across their speechless faces); saying you have lost them both and people move faster than you can imagine. Another friend asked me what he should have said. Something. Anything. Much better than nothing.
Grief is like a steam train. One day you can be walking along, listening to the birds and feeling like life is sweet. The next day, from nowhere the change can knock you down, I mean literally; like a great exhaustion, a physical change. My Dad (widowed twice and a great advisor to me on grief after Mum died) likened it to falling off a cliff; my experience of parental grief both times has been similar to this.
I only have one friend of a similar age who is in the same position as me. I turn to her at times and ask her how she copes with the feeling of loss, the missing, the sadness that they are not here to share our triumphs and struggles. She says that there is no answer to this, just feel it when it’s there and then it will simmer down for some time. This is all we can do. Happy Fathers Day, Dad. I will have a pint for you and a packet of Jelly Babies.