I really miss Dad tonight. It’s a new kind of grief. I’ve been so caught up in mourning what was, I hadn’t considered the loss of what should have been.
The Boy will never know him. He probably won’t even remember him as a real human being. Dad will never sing ‘Gilly, Gilly, Ossenfeffer Katsenellenbogen-by-the-Sea’ to him. My boy will never hear Dad sing anything, in fact, see him perform on stage, or an acoustic number in his living room. All of that future is gone.
Dad promised to buy his first guitar. That won’t happen now. And yes, of course I could use some of the inheritance to buy one in his memory and that would be a Very Nice Thing, but that’s not the point. Dad would have taught him to play it.
That’s the biggie. My boy has lost a grandparent. He’s too little to understand this, so I have to do the mourning for him.
And I will never hear more of Dad’s stories. Flesh him out. My parents divorced when I was 6-months old and I wasn’t close to Dad as a child. Wasn’t especially close to him as an adult really, until the birth of my son. (God, he was a proud Grandad. He loved The Boy. His first grandson…)
And of course I feel so horribly guilty about this, but it was a two-way thing. I am determined not to let it eat me up. It just meant we had some catching up to do. And that’s not finished. I haven’t finished getting to know my Dad properly, and now I never will. My memories of him are scant. The plan was to create new ones.
The last time I saw him, that was a good one. Just a rainy day around the house with The Boy. There should have been more of those.
The impossibility of that which should have been has only just hit me.
I forgot to tell you. The other night The Boy woke in the night at some ungodly hour. I got up to go and see what he needed – usually covering up with his duvet, occasionally a snuggle, he likes to mix things up a bit – and my Dad came with me.
I was walking down the hall to The Boy’s room, and my Dad was walking down the hall to The Boy’s room too. He was wearing one of his leather jackets with the tassles on the arms, and a sweatshirt. He hasn’t worn a tassley leather for a good 20 years. I can’t decide if that means he definitely was a figment of my imagination – surely actual Dad would come wearing more recent clothes? – or if it means he definitely wasn’t a figment of my imagination – if I’d have imagined him, surely it would have been in one of the outfits I last saw him in? Maybe they’re having an 80s revival over on the other side…
Did that last paragraph make any sense? Or at least, about as much sense as me walking down the hall with my dead Dad in the wee small hours of the morning?
It just felt normal, like ‘of course my dead Dad is coming to tuck The Boy in too.’ And then, when the ‘dead Dad’ bit hit my brain, I got a bit scared and Dad whooshed off. He definitely whooshed, diagonally right.
I may not have been quite awake. Let’s leave it at that.
And a dead Dad thing that doesn’t warrant its own post but that made me laugh. I had a couple of weeks off work when he died. During that time, I was supposed to be mentoring a work experience student at work. I HATE work experience students. It’s basically just babysitting. One of my colleagues stepped in for me, and when I returned there was two days of this kid’s placement left.
D: “Are you OK to carry on mentoring Joe?”
Colleague: “Um, not really – I kind of have a lot on and hoped you could do it…”
D: (wide eyed) “But Simon, my Dad’s dead…”
Colleague: “Oh, gosh, um, I know, and if it helps… (sees me trying not to laugh) Oh bugger off. He’s yours…”
If you’re going to have a dead Dad, may as well try and get some laughs out of it. Just me laughing, then…?