|My dad as a toddler in the early 1930s|
Always an active man, who played sports and loved walking and cycling, a bad knee slowly put a stop to all that, but he had many other interests, and reading and doing the crossword, as well as his life-long love of everything aircraft-related, kept him busy and - at first sight, at least - contented.
For the last couple of years, he seemed to be losing his way a bit (figuratively speaking, not literally) and he often complained of not feeling well, not in the physical sense, but a vague feeling of unease he couldn't seem to snap out of.
Not being a man who easily talked about his feelings didn't really help ...
|At 15 years old, in 1947|
On Sunday his condition had deteriorated in such a way that it was clear that going back home was not an option.
It was heart wrenching to see him decline in such a short space of time, especially as this could probably have been avoided or at least postponed if he hadn't been so determined that his life was over anyway.
In Dylan Thomas's words, I could have urged him to "not go gently into that good night" and to "rage, rage, against the dying of the light".
In August 2001, my mum died. She was only 65. It seems like it was yesterday and an eternity ago at the same time and, because the end of her suffering was a relief at first, it is only in the last couple of years that I really started missing her.
Will the same happen with my dad? Will time heal all wounds? Will only Kodachrome memories remain in the end?
|With my mum and me|
At the same time, I owe so much to him, even though at times it's been an effort to see the good things.
After all, in yet another English poet's words: they fuck you up, your mum and dad ...
So here's to my dad, to whom I owe being an Anglophile, who made me appreciate music and especially jazz and the blues, from whom I inherited a love of reading, walking, a hunger for knowledge, and above all a sometimes cynical sense of humour.
And so the super 8 film of his life slowly ground to a halt, the colours fading, the reel flapping, until somebody somewhere turned off the whirring projector and all was quiet.
The sound of silence.