“I am not sure about this blog, was so confident before now I think it may be a bit down and dull.”
Douglas Lovell, my Dad born October 1936 died in July 2011. I’d never felt hurt like this before. Let me just choke back this throat lump before getting back on track because this blog is supposed to be more uplifting, spiritual even rather than sad.
I may live what worshippers of most the world religions regard a sinful life. However I taught myself to only care about the judgment of God. So far I have found it quite easy to get through life my way and despite the bad have even managed to keep hold of a bit of my old Catholic faith. Although to be honest not a great deal. I also had a strong belief that something greater than my Dad existed. Despite his own orphanage upbringing had the hand of cruel Nuns, my Dad also maintained a tentative grip on his faith. He prayed on many occasions just not every day, like me. The next Saint Paul. Grrrr sharing my name with a scripture writing homophobic hurts, well I suppose my Dad couldn’t have known I’d be a puff.
I know for sure he continued to commune with him up there because throughout the years I’d bossily enquire and he always answered with a yes. So, even if organised religions, group praying and blind devotion pushed him away from the whole worshipping thing. I hope he gained some comfort from it when he relaxed his brave-face smile.
If one truly feels, believes, whatever, that there is a divine presence surrounding you it’s hard to shake off regardless of the cruel ungodly actions of others. I reckon like myself he discarded the unpalatable aspects and simply hung on to some of the specially selected items. His doggie-bag from a Great Big Religious Pick-n-Mix Buffet. Ummmmmmm.
Needless to say I did a lot of praying throughout my Dads illness. As soon as I heard of the Cancer diagnoses, I phoned home. He sounded so well and upbeat. I remember thinking, “how brave” and immediately started blubbing. After the call I was livid. I’d managed through a flood of tears to say to my beautiful Dad, a hero of mine who’d raised his five children alone. “I don’t want to come home because I don’t want to see you” What a C**T (yeah bad word, I know) I blame the shock. I can’t blame my own selfishness. Anyway don’t judge, at least I caught the next available flight. It doesn’t matter what age you are, you are always a child around your parents and we often act like one. I never felt so much like a child as I did on that lonely day.
Although the visit was really unpleasant it was made more bearable by Dads show of bravery and the knowledge he had the support of his children. We shared some much needed if somewhat awkward hugs, they were alien in our family, I shed a few tears and then came loads of inappropriate jokes and much laughter. For that I fully blame him we all inherited a portion of his Humorous Genes. We spoke often over the next two years, he surpassed the eighteen month DEAD-Line, which was nice. He always sounded bright and alert and had plenty of energy for a good family moan. It must have been a struggle for him, putting on a brave voice when I telephoned. I continued to pray “Please Lord, cure my Dad of Cancer and all his aliments” I’m not one of those that thinks such a powerful being that can create a universe is just waiting around to answer MY demands.
My take is. If I were the almighty creator of an ant farm in a glass tank. I’d put in soil, leaves, rotting fruit maybe a few twigs. I’d look at my work admiringly. If one of the ants was limping or being devoured by another. Would I even notice? I wouldn’t hear the cries. I certainly wouldn’t be sitting there waiting to rescue any who may happen to be stressed. That’s not to say I wouldn’t pick one up and place it back inside if one somehow found itself on the wrong side of the glass. So I repeat pray like a radio signal, the same message over and over to bolster the previous one hoping that maybe it will draw God’s attention. A bit like reposting these blogs.
The placebo prescribed didn’t cure him and when the Cancer became too progressed, I changed my requests to ones about less suffering and family coping. I know I needed comfort more than ever at this point and still found a touch in my nightly conversations. My prayers, a true constant in my life weren’t being heeded but continued to give me strength. As I could easily imagine my dad through sacrifice and suffering qualified for fast-track entry into the glorious afterlife. I also tried to bargain and plead his case offering prearrange deals just to be sure.
Our last telephone call was not easy, for either of us. I already knew dad had become disorientated around the house and was finding it difficult staying on topic when chatting. In my final call I could feel him straining through the long silences. A simple question of what did you have for breakfast, my last, went unanswered but when I told him that I loved him he replied “And I love you”. A fact I already knew but only remember hearing him tell me once before. When I came out. I’ll never really understand why so many of his generation have difficulty saying that, but hey. We didn’t speak again, I did telephone but we never spoke. I selfishly kept those final words for myself, echoes for my memories. Still glad I did.
He spent his final days together with his greatest and proudest achievement, his family. Children, grand and great grand. His love for children was so ingrained that even when he didn’t know which way was up. His face still beamed at the sight of his grandchildren’s offspring.
Dad passed away on a Thursday around 9.30 in the morning. If he chose that time to go it was an excellent choice and to use one of his trazillion quotes, “Mighty Decent of him” Even in my wildest rose-tinted imaginings I could never have envisioned he would pass away at home cradled in the love of his closest Son and Daughter. Such a blessing that he wasn’t alone in a NHS hospital or nursing home surrounded by strangers.
As I lived abroad, I cannot express my sincere gratitude and my pride towards my brother David and sister Carole who constantly reassured me that all was being done and me not being there wasn’t such a negative. I know they did suffer emotional grief witnessing his decline of which I was sheltered by distance. But at least their cup now overflows with positive Karma and taught their own children the real meaning of looking after your own.
That night I spoke to God of Ascension. “On the Third day” came to mind, a nice piece of reassurance I kept from the buffet.
On the second day a Friday, whilst walking my dog my downcast eyes found a giant four-leaf clover and on the third night, I saw a shooting star and waved dad goodbye. In the early days of his illness my dad made a solemn promise he’d apply for a job manning the pearly gates and put a good word in for me if I have trouble getting in. To which I will hold him to. The next day I caught a floating summertime wish, one of those plant things. I made a secret reaffirming type wish just to make sure then watched as it rose straight up and vanished out of sight. It did so without touching anything, that bit is so important else the wish gets wiped clean off.
I generally only ever believe in good luck. I either have good luck or no luck. Bad luck I refuse to acknowledge it’s existence. I can even tempt fate by saying it out loud. I will also walk under ladders presuming it’s window-cleaner free. Friday the 13th is only a terrible movie and my cat which is black, crosses my path again and again every single time he’s hungry. Whereas good luck will have me crossing both fingers and toes and as you read searching amongst the clover. I interpreted my three signs as a comforting cryptic message and chose to think that the great one up there was using my own silly superstitions to comfort me.
Before any burial arrangements I made my feeling clear that I needed the funeral to be at St Michael’s. Even if I hadn’t stepped foot inside a church for years excluding, the usual invites to hatches, matches and dispatches. I was baptized, received my first Holy Communion and got confirmed there.
At the age of six on an official school visit I developed an affinity towards the place. We were told “You are now about to enter the house of The Almighty Father.” This Almighty God was apparently everyone’s Father. I really like the idea of getting a second parent, especially one so powerful he could create a universe. When I entered I was instantly blown away by the stillness of such a remorquious ambiance. Impressed by the magnificent array of colour cast at me feet. Sunlight shone through the majestic stained glass windows, so huge they stretched up the walls to meet with an impressive domed roof. Even the waxy wooded scents, a mix of pews and incense intoxicated me. I stood in wonder but averted my eyes away from the hideous dragon slaying and crucifixion which were a bit too graphic. At that impressionable age I was easily overwhelmed by it all and also spiritually inspired. 35 years later and St Michael’s church, preserved like a time capsule smelt and looked no different.
Sorry Dad but bequeathing me that Chess set I bought you in London was not what I wanted. I can’t stand the game. Memories of been asked to explain my moves, when the only answer was to lose faster so I go out and play, still haunt me. I gave it to David. I did want a memento and one thing instantly came to mind. A pepper pot, I hadn’t seen it for years even though I could recall it being around the house throughout my entire life. It was attached to one of my earliest Toddler memories from “the old house” number 17. That and a wooden donkey head, along with Carole falling off the dining table. As a child I viewed it as a treasure, an antique and maybe just maybe secretly valuable.
I was half expected it to be lost in all the upheaval and made a conscious effort not to build up my hopes, It didn’t work. I was still bitterly disappointed when told I was correct and it couldn’t be found. There was no other item I could think of that had sentimental value. Just as I had begrudgingly accepted the news with a “never-mind”, I got a telephone call saying it had been found and was now secured. Then I realised how close tears of happiness and sorrow really are. As for its secret value? It is, in truth a rather small rather insignificant looking pepper-pot, it has no age and has made in Japan stamped on the base. It now sits in pride of place and is by far the most treasured possession I own. I suppose I’m now mature enough to see the true value of things.
Finally the point. Not sure really there is one as I’d only been back two hours and after a short discussion felt compelled to write this. I think it’s cathartic or something. All I know is that David, Carole and myself couldn’t have been more satisfied in the way the funeral proceedings went. I was so proud of the young un’s, none of which were involved in the recent Wolverhampton riots. Plus I am extremely grateful for all who attended, especially the friends he valued mostly. I was humbled by the homage paid by those he’d know long ago and even felt a little honoured by the presence of some and wish to thank them all for making my Dad’s funeral a rose-tinted passing.
Remorquious: The silent respectful atmosphere felt inside places of worship. A reverent unspoken concern often displayed by those around the terminally ill or grieving. Also verbally expressed with platitudes or shown by the bowing of heads as a funeral procession passes by.