Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bye Dad II

We had Dad's funeral today and he would have been extremely happy with it.  Myself, my brother and my sister all spoke and I'd like to share with you my tribute to him.

I just want to say a few things about my Dad. He had, on the whole, a disappointing life. There wasn’t a film he hadn’t seen before, nor was very realistic. There were lights that didn’t turn themselves off once you left a room so cost him money. As a lifelong Leeds United supporter (a disappointment in itself) he had sons who support Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. And then there was Anne-Marie who knew all the right buttons to press to get her way. Really he didn’t stand a chance.

He was born at Lofthouse Gate on the 17th December 1937 to Irene and Harry. He was a big brother to Carol whom he constantly annoyed, attempted to leave in a quarry and paid her off when he wanted some peace and quiet. As a young he was also renouned on days out for having to go trouserless until everyone else was ready as he was very good at finding dirt and getting covered.

He moved to Derby as a young man where he met Doreen, his wife to be, at a cricket match in which her Dad was playing. They were together for 53 years and married for 50 of those (which he frequently commented worse than if he’d killed someone and had a life behind bars).

After moving from Derby they set up home in Filey in the 60s to take up a job at Dale. He stayed there for 27 years until he retired and decided to annoy Mum on a full time basis. This also gave him a chance to take part in his other hobbies – annoying sales men in shops and on the phone in an attempt to get the biggest discount and phoning his children with computer related issues.
But he did get upto a few other things in this time – there were the three of us to start with. Arriving at around about three year intervals, but you can come to your own conclusions about that. Then there were his associations with darts & domino leagues, playing pool and Filey Town football club.
Growing up we underwent a regular litany of messages which are now burnt into our minds.

• “Put kettle on, who’s mashing”
• “I was watching that” (usually whilst having his eyes closed)
• “Were you born in a barn”
• “Turn some lights off it’s like Blackpool Illuminations in here” (which needs mentioning more than once as it was a very common theme)
• “My hair’s not grey it’s silver”
• “Do you want to talk to the old dragon”
• And, once he was bitten by the video gaming bug, “bloody hell it’s killed me again”

A few of these were combined on a Saturday afternoon whilst sport was on after a lunch of fish and chips when he was generally sleepy.

He had some other legendary traits as well. He had amazing culinary skills – I’ve never met anyone else that would have a good go at burning water. His general levels of tightness – it always astonished us when his wallet appeared first in a pub and, to be honest, we’re not entirely sure where it is right now. His masterful illusion of removing his thumb which mesmerised each of us kids and the grandkids. And his ability to cheat at Scrabble – there were words that he used to use that’d you wouldn’t even find in the latest dictionaries of allowable words.
On top of all this he accepted our extended family of friends who were often around the house – in fact he was a pretty good collector of waifs and strays. From those that tormented him (generally about his health) *Liz* to those that insisted he was a great Nigel Mansell lookalike during the years he sported his moustache *Owen*. He would complain about it constantly, though we paid no attention to it whatsoever. We knew that he really enjoyed the vibrancy of life, family and friends in the home and his protestations were just part of his grumpy, cantankerous mask.

But we all know that the last 14 years have been taken up with the grandchildren. They have been the big light in his life. Georgina, Xena, Lucas, Steph, Persephone, Jensen and Dexter. We knew how proud and excited he was when they were born. Personally one of the strongest pictures I hold in my mind is that of when he got to hold each of the kids for the first time. His love for them knew no bounds.

His fight against cancer lasted just short of a year and the only relief we can take from this is that the end came quickly he was spared too much pain. His last day was spent surrounded by his family who’d come to say their goodbyes and offer him reassurance. In that room at St Catherine’s the wicked and dry sense of humour that he’d embodied in life was echoed back as we talked and laughed. There was no way he was going out with us mourning him before he was taken from us. It would have annoyed the heck out of him for having inconvenienced us all that day.
To close we’d like you to sit through Abide With Me, a hymn with strong footballing connections and remember him with fondness in your hearts.

In the words of his Mum “Night night, God bless and no shouting down!”

Dad we’re going to miss you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bye Dad

I'm sad to report that on Friday 20 May at 11:40pm my Dad lost his fight with cancer.  His final decline was, mercifully, very very quick.  I returned him to St Catherine's Hospice in Scarborough on the Tuesday after he was complaining of pains in his chest and being unable to stop coughing.  By Friday morning he lapsed from consciousness and remained that way until the end. 

During the Friday he was constantly surrounded by his family. The older grandchildren all got time to see him and say their goodbye and passed on their love for him.  The rest of us generally made sure that the room was one of laughter and happy memories and thoughts.  We discussed his ability to cheat at Scrabble, his admiration of Carol Vordemann of Countdown fame, his attempts of ensuring he got attention from the nursing staff and where he'd hidden his wallet so we couldn't get at it.  He was forever a practical man and would have been disappointed if we'd have sat their mourning him.

Now is the time for mourning.  Right now I have that guilty feeling that I'm glad he went quickly and peacefully but my heart aches for him and I miss him dearly.  He was a rock in the family - never short of wit and wisdom (often with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek).  When we found out that Perse was on her way with her heart problems and Down Syndrome I remember him saying that he didn't think he would have been able to cope with a child with these problems.  From the first moment he saw her he was smitten.  P, a girl of few words, did manage 'Grandad' as one of her first.  He was always there for us everytime we ended up rushing off to hospital at the drop of a hat.  But for all his grandchildren he was a limitless well of love and affection. 

There are so many things that I'd like to say but right now I can't form them into words.

Dad, we love you, we'll miss you but we'll never forget you.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Busy, busy, busy

That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

Well my Dad is hospital at the moment after having a stent put in his gullet to 'hopefully' help him swallow better.  It appears that the stupid cancerous lymph node is getting in the way and causing some narrowing.  I guess the update so far (which is what this is turning into) is that after the chemo the radiotherapy did some further shrinking of the tumours.  However (and there always seems to be one of those pesky adverbs) it appears there is another small growth on the adrenal gland.  So whilst there was some good news at his last oncology appointment there was also some bad.  The treatment now involves medication, the name of which escapes  at this point in time, to at the least maintain the status quo.

So what am I saying here?  It's a tough time for him.  It's hard for the rest of us who feel we can do little more than observe.  But we need to remember that trying to keep spirits up is important.  We need to keep kicking his backside when he slips.  We need to make him laugh when we can and at other times we just need to be there for him.  As a family we think he's great.  As a husband, father and grandfather (to all seven of the terrors of various sizes) and as a friend and mentor (even if us kids always knew more than him - and of course still do).

Do me a favour and next time you throw a prayer to any deity you may worship or just think good thoughts please give him a shout out for luck.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Yep - that's about the size of it.  Five months and I've had nothing to say!  Christmas came and went, winter seems to have beaten a retreat and Easter is up this weekend and, I'm very pleased to say, my Dad is still a cause for entertainment .  However, I think I can safely say that the rut has been stuck in for too long.  Time to say something, time to do something.

I'm beginning to realise that the aches and pains of FMS and age aren't going to leave me alone.  Exercise is imminent and I've decided I'm going to use the boy as a training partner and have a go at the Couch to 5k program that seems to be a sucessful way of exercise.  And having an 11 year old that never shuts up and runs around me in circles certainly helps motivate me.  So wish me luck.

I'm also going to promise to post here at least once a week.  I need to exercise my mind a little more on something that doesn't involve potatoes!  I've no idea what I'm going to say right now but I'm pretty sure I'll think of something.  If all else fails I have little P to fall back on as she's usually full of stories to mention.

So I hope at least a few of you read and comment - maybe kick me now and then to make sure I keep on going.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Tribute

This is a simple tribute to our servicemen and women past and present who put their lives on the line to ensure we remain free and protected.  It's a reminder to all those that have lost their lives through conflict whether on the battlefield or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  A prayer and a thought that we never forget these sacrifices and remember the strength of human spirit against those that try to oppress or obliterate freedoms and rights.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hmmm...titles...I hate titles....

Okay, so I've not posted for an age again.  I'm a terrible, terrible commentator!

So what's been going on?  Well let's pick up with my Dad.  I'll say it now, it always needs saying no matter how obvious it is, cancer sucks.  He's just finished some more chemo and we're now in the waiting period before another scan.  He's not been as sick this time around, but they have reduced the dosage.  So we all have fingers crossed, prayers said and good thoughts thought.  One of the most uplifting things I think my Dad got was a letter from one of my old school friends.  He also felt my Dad looked a bit like Nigel Mansell (the racing driver) and, seventeen years ago, he incorporated this into his Best Man's speech at my wedding.  The letter he sent was generally daft, funny and caring at the same time.  A timely reminder that the power of words should never be forgotten.

On a lighter note I had a father/son weekend with the boy recently.  We travelled down to London for a weekend and enjoyed some shopping, museums and, the highlight, to see the NFL game staged in Wembley for the fourth year.  This year we got the 49ers and the Broncos. Hopes for a great game were not high plus the knowledge that sitting through the scores coming up and seeing the Cowboys get an unexpected hammering much to the delight of much of the crowd were prevalent in my mind.  However, only one out of two of these things came true.  Whilst it was true that the first half was a little dull it seemed that both teams fetched completely different teams out in the second half!  Both teams played well and scored well taking the game down until the last minute or so.  The boy loved it!  It was his first time at a major sporting event.

I know there is always some consternation from the other side of the pond about this event but for us fans of the NFL it's a fantastic treat.  Saturday saw a fan rally in Trafalgar Square in the heart of London.

This was attended by many fans supporting many teams.  There were Hall of Famers interviewed (including the great Jerry Rice), the Niner Noise drumline, the Gold Rush and a variety of celebs. 

Game day saw a big pre-game tailgate with thousands of people passing through before entering the stadium.  Once inside we were part of the huge 86,000 crowd.  After the player warm-ups we were treated to My Chemical Romance playing a couple of numbers, Michelle Williams sang the American national anthem whilst Jeff Beck guitar screamed his way through God Save the Queen.

As the 49ers were the home team so there were 49er flags on every seat to wave (I must admit to cheering on the Broncos though).  As the home team came out there was the fantastic sight of a stadium of people waving the red flags and cheering.  A pretty impressive sight.

The boy enjoyed himself immensely.  I didn't have to spend too long explaining various rules to him.  He did pick it up pretty quicky and was caught up in the excitement.  We stayed until the end then rushed off to get back into central London.  We struck it lucky and managed to get out fast and back to the Youth hostel we were staying at within the hour. 

The following day, after some shopping and eating we went to visit the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth.  The boy, being eleven, is at that stage where tanks and stuff are cool.  So we spent a while in there, walking around the various exhibits.  We saw a photograph on a video feed that, somewhere on it, would have been Sarah grandfather whilst he was serving on the HMS Prince of Wales.   However to put it into context I took him up to the Holocaust exhibition.  There was someone at the entrance advising that it has a 14 year old discressionary age limit.  We went into what I can only describe as one of the best and most harrowing museum exhibits I've ever seen.  It went through from the origins of anti-Semitism from about AD70, when Christianity was growing and held the Jews as responsible for killing Jesus, through 1930 when it moved from being based in religion to Hilter's irrationaly hatred and up to modern day.  There were displays of the various items of humiliation used against them, photographs and displays of items that were found at the camps.  A medical table which they'd used to dissect victims (basically an autopsy table).  There was also a model of a small part of the Auschwitz camp.  Compared to the photograph it really gave an impression of how huge it was.  The boy was pretty much quiet all the way through.  Explaining about the view of the superior Aryan race and the "cleansing" that was done of those with disabilities really hit home to him.  Being able to say that in a period of time that his grandparents lived through these people simply would have killed his little sister made it very real.  It is certainly something that people should see and, as time goes on, we need to remember what happened.  Especially remembering that at the end of the day it wasn't just the Jewish that were persecuted, the Roma people, Eastern Europeans and those of different political views.  We need to remember as next time it might be us. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Right - time to post

I don't seem to have had a moment to take breath for the next few weeks.  It's been all go, go, go! 

My Dad has now had his second dose of chemo and his battling well.  So please do keep up the prayers and good thoughts for him.

School is now back and we now have two in Secondary School - that's making me feel very, very old now.  They all enjoy school a great deal and Captain Chaos wore her school uniform throughout summer nearly as often as if they were there.

Last week I was, again, knocked off my motorbike by someone cutting a corner to make a turn.  For a few moments after the crash I thought I'd managed to keep it off the tarmac until momentum took off and slammed me down.  Unfortunately the bike landed on the nose of the fairing and the damage to it is starting to look expensive.  The insurers are thinking about writing it off - which I'd be very upset about as it's been a great bike.  I may end up having to get it back and do the repair work myself.

The weekend was then rounded off by Sarah injuring her back.  At the moment she's suffering badly with it and I'm hoping that it'll start to ease up pretty soon.  I hate that back's are so easy to damage, I'm pretty sure that there is a design flaw there.

I promise that I'll catch up a little with books and songs during the week - I really shouldn't get out of the habit of posting.