📆 Post date: 2023-11-04


Please warned this is a personal post that I felt I needed to share. It’s not about writing, technology or anything else I usually muse about, which is why it’s not linked on the ftont page of the site.

I have been thinking a lot about my father recently. You should know the following as a minimum:

  • My dad was an honest man who, I am pretty sure, was as close to a good guy as one could possibly be.
  • He always worked hard for my mom and I.
  • He was mostly, in a pretty good mood. Which, was nice.
  • My dad died alone in hospital at the height of covid.
  • I have come to realise that I failed him, though, it has taken me some time to say it.

Our relationship

I loved my father. He really was a very nice man. I’m certain that he loved me too. But we had little in common. When I was a kid, my dad was into football, action movies, and, for reasons I never grasp, was built like an 50s strong-man despite never going to the gym.

He had the sort of monstrous arms which would have looked at home on any comic book hero.

I liked video games and Spider-Man cartoons. I read comics and had very few friends. No real ones.

Everyone seemed to like Dad. He was ‘nice’ and as well as nice, he seemed to have a skill for every problem he faced. He could fix anything, drive anything, and loved to play the organ/piano. He seemed to magically solve problems as he navigated the world and, I think, improved everyone’s day as he did.

Eventually he got himself a massive shed at the top of the garden, which he split down the middle.

Half of it contained plush curtains and a red carpet. It housed at one point, I think, two organs and an electric piano. It had tasteful lighting and a nice armchair in the corner by the door; it was positioned to look at all the nice things.

The other half was a workshop, which housed wood-working tools that I never understood.

The two sides of the large shed, I think, represented the two sides of his creativity. One side for fixing problems and one side for reflection, or medications. Even though he never said it, I think the music was his only real emotional outlet.

I was in my mid 20s when he got that shed. I think fondly of him sitting in it, on a summer’s day, wearing his special “I’m working on something” overall-coat and drinking tea that was so weak it may as well have been hot water with a tiny drop of milk.

He and my mom were always in love and they enjoyed each other’s company in ways I am deeply envious of, now that I find myself a lonely, single, 43-year-old who wishes he had have had a better marriage.

The illness.

My dad fell ill. It started with crippling headaches and then developed into non-epileptic seizures.

My marriage broke down and I left my wife at about this point. Though, I think she had left me emotionally about a year before we even got married. I always felt bad that I didn’t leave sooner. I think she would have found a more permanent happiness if I had.

I chose to move in with my parents because it felt like they needed me and, let’s be honest, I had little else going on at the time. My daughter came split her time between me and her mom. My dad loved spending time with her, and she loved him. They had quite a connection.

Eventually, the seizures got worse. It was easier for him to stay in bed rather than find himself struck by an ‘episode’ with no warning and often injure himself.

Over the next decade there were many long stays in hospital and more than once we feared the worst.

At some point in all of this, between the cluster headaches and seizures, he had two strokes, leaving him in a wheelchair.

Things settled, and we had care-people come to the house twice a day to help him with things.

He always kept in good spirits. Never a cross word and despite a phase of being quite miserable, he coped better than I think most people would have done.

Eventually, after years of slowly deteriorating health, Covid happened, and he was taken into hospital one afternoon after a very serious seizure.

He died about a week later in what I can only describe as the worst week of my life.

I had Covid myself and it was bad enough that I’m pretty sure I almost slipped away myself.

One night before he passed away, I felt so bad that knew I needed medical attention. I picked up my phone and dropped it on the floor next to the bed. I was so sick that I accepted I was going to die.

That’s not hyperbole either. I honestly thought that was it. I couldn’t breathe properly and felt so weak that reaching down for my phone was beyond me.

I couldn’t even muster the energy to ask a voice assistant to get me help. I closed my eyes for what I thought was the last time.

I only told you that little bit about my own Covid experience because it frames the next bit - I genuinely thought the news of his death was part of a fever dream. It was only when I recovered a few days later that I realised it was true.

I couldn’t tell my mom or my daughter this either. It would have been self-obsessed and pointless. Instead, I sat and processed that from my point of view; I had experienced the news twice.

The really odd thing about that little snippet there is that as time goes by, it feels more and more like an overstatement. It’s not. I have notes and thoughts I wrote to myself at the time. Now though, it feels like a story, not a memory. Which is a strange thing to have in your own life.

I know this is a little indulgent of me to say, but, I’m not sure how I made it through that time. I never reached out for someone to talk to because there was no one in my life who I felt would be able to support. They all needed me. I had to get through it, and I did.

My failure

I am not good at emotion. I can cry like a baby at a novel, or at a cartoon dog who is far from home, because these are safe emotions. Emotions that can be used and discarded. Like the emotional equivalent of a snack.

When it comes to ‘real’ emotion, I fear that I am barren. I don’t know how to process a feeling, then move on. If I let myself feel the full force of anything, it scares me because I don’t think I have a mechanism to make it stop. Because of that, I feel like when faced with tragedy, conflict or loss, I become cold, automatic and procedural.

My dad’s slowly deteriorating health caused me to activate this ‘mode,’ I think.

I never told him how much I respected him. I never told him how much I needed him, how much impact he had had on me by showing me what it was to be a man. I never told him how much I loved him for it all.

I fear I was often short-tempered and dismissive of him. I feel like we disagreed about everything and not once about something that actually mattered.

I did not give him time when I should have done. Never listened to him. Never simply accepted his ways. Not how I should have done.

I was not a bad son. I was always there. I did everything asked of me. But I know, I know that I did it automatically and robotically because it was expected. Not because I wanted to, not because I needed to and my dad needed me. I did it because it was what was asked of me.

My dad was better at pretty much everything than I was, right up until he got sick. I never changed who he was in my head. I never let myself emotionally understand that he needed me.

I failed my dad by not finding a way to connect with him in a way that would give me warm memories. I only have regret for not being more for him.

When my dad died in hospital during the pandemic, they would not let my mom in the room with him. A nurse held a phone next to his ear and he called me.

He was on breathing machines and the only person with him was a nurse whose name I never learned.

We spoke over the noise of the machine, through a shitty old mobile phone with a bad signal. He was weak and exhausted and in hindsight it was likely when my own Covid was taking hold and, added to the stress of the situation, I was in something of a delirium.

I don’t know the exact words he used because I couldn’t hear over the phone. But I know in my soul that my dad told me he loved me and told me to look after my mom, because of course he did. I told him I loved him and not to worry, because what else was there to say? After a few minutes of silence, the nurse said goodbye to me.

I honestly don’t know if it was the same evening or a day later that he died. It was in the middle of the night. My mom, who has her own health problems, has a doorbell next to her armchair. The noisy bit is plugged in, in my office upstairs. She rang the bell and told me he was gone.

Covid consumed for the next two days, and I literally have only fragments of memory from it. I’m not even sure how much of it actually happened and in what order. I just remember the bombshell of realising it was not a dream. He had gone.

My first clear memory is from about a week later, visiting a funeral director.

The impact

I have felt guilt about not doing enough for my dad since the moment he died.

I did write a lot more about how I responded and how my then Wiccan faith saw me through, but no matter how I worded it, it took something away from everything above. I was very serious about my Wiccan faith. I was no fashionable pagan; I was seeking answers, and seeking them hard.

Sometimes I watch old He-man cartoons and secretly think about my dad. He never watched He-man cartoons, but something about a wholesome hero with big arms reminds me of him. I guess I watch it because I miss him.

All I have left to write is that a year ago now, my work sent me to donate some Kit Kats and deodorants to the food bank. The food bank, was attached to the local Elim Pentecostal Church. They intrigued me and I ordered a Bible and spoke to some internet friends about it, some friends I knew were Christian. I had some questions.

I have been going to that church every Sunday since. I have read the bible every day. I have swapped the pentacle for a cross, and I know that Jesus died for me.

My wiccan faith left me seeking and running. As a Christian I have been able to write this post. A post I wanted to write since my dad was taken.

I loved my dad. I wish more than anything that I had have found Christianity when he was still with me. Because it has made me a better man. The man I am because of Christ would have been strong enough to love my father in a way that honoured him. In ways that would not have left me with these regrets.

I’m sorry I failed you dad.

Why did you share this?

I don’t know. I wrote it just for me; I write a lot for me. I read it back and just felt like maybe it’s the sort of thing that should be just, out there.

Now, go away. I’m busy.


This Was written by HexDSL, if this was liked by you, you can email him at Hexdsl@gmail.com or use this link to join Discord