My father

10 Mar

When I talked about a daddy shaped hole in our lives being filled over and needing to be bludgeoned open again I hadn’t meant my own daddy or expected the hole to be bludgeoned with such force.  Shortly after making such flippant comments my whole world turned upside down when I received a phone call from my mother in Derbyshire.  She cares deeply about everyone, wears her heart on her sleeve and has been known to call me in tears about someone I have never met and she knows only slightly being diagnosed with a terminal illness so when I had a calm phone call from her telling me that my father had been in a car accident I initially thought nothing too serious had happened.  Then I realised that the words she was saying didn’t stack up to the calm way in which they were delivered.

Although she insisted I didn’t need to do anything and should wait for another phone call I immediately began checking the computer for flights to East Midlands, discovering to my distress that the last of the night had left five minutes before.  Fifteen minutes later, as I was poised to book one for the following morning we got another call to say that it was more serious, his heart had stopped for ten minutes and he was too weak to get a scan.  To my surprise my mother didn’t complain when I said we were coming right down and we rushed round the house bundling children into pyjamas and clothes into bags.  It was the worst journey of my life.  At best it is a five hour journey from Edinburgh to Derbyshire and every step of the way I was getting ever more tragic updates culminating with a phone call when we were in Newcastle to say that he had died from massive internal bleeding.  I had to call my brother who was equally helpless waiting in a departure lounge in New York and we both sobbed down the phone to each other, in contrast to my mother who, when I eventually reached her at the hospital, was still unbelievably stoical being supported by a close friend.  Three days on she still hasn’t cried.

I made the decision to go and see my father in his hospital bed and slightly wish I hadn’t.  Although his body was there his golfers tan was yellow and waxen, his twinkling blue eyes were closed and his permanent smile was replaced by an open mouth which only resembled his expression when he’d fallen asleep in front of the TV.  When I held his cold hand it didn’t feel like his but when I clutched his expansive chest it at least felt like the bear hug I gave him every time I left home.  None of us slept when we got home that night.  The sleeping children were transferred to bed and my mother, husband and I sat up drinking brandy and trying to make sense of the days events.  Eventually at about 3.30am mum announced she would need a hot water bottle if she were going to sleep in their bed without dad there to warm her and I offered to sleep beside her to keep her company.  I had never slept there before, as a child I was desperate to but was invariably frog marched back to my room so it was weird being in that situation at the age of 41. After no sleep the first night I completely passed out the second but by the third I couldn’t sleep and would wake from nightmares to realise that reality was even worse.  Having woken mum with my sobs I realised that it was probably better to get up and attend to all the admin which was buzzing round my head.

There is so much admin. Not only the funeral which involves the church, the crematorium, the undertakers and the hotel where we’re inviting people afterwards but in our case the police and the local paper who have been doorstepping us in the hope of a vicious comment about speeding or an emotional outburst about what an amazing man he was.  This morning after dealing with endless calls arranging the funeral I felt slightly more in control then collapsed when I read the shout line on the hoarding outside the newsagents announcing details of the horror death of a local man.

I am not sure how I will cope with the next few days let alone the next few weeks but I know for certain that I wouldn’t have got this far without the tremendous support of friends, family and the husband I so cruelly maligned last week. I am very, very lucky to have him and I have never felt so close to my brother.  I’m so glad that we brought the kids with us.  They have brought light into our darkest hours, the four year old with her innocence of the situation and the seven year old with her sensitivity.  However the person who has given me the most support is ironically the person I am supposed to be supporting.  For the time being at least, my mother has taken complete control of the situation and is holding the family together.  My father would be proud, mum has slipped effortlessly into his role and is proving that she really is our rock.


9 Responses to “My father”


  1. The Inquest « Sleepless in silence in suburbia - March 24, 2012

    […] it. Something which has been rather short in our home of late. Last week marked six months since my father’s accident and the date of his inquest. My brother and I had no desire to go and my mother couldn’t bear to […]

  2. Death is nothing at all « Sleepless in silence in suburbia - March 24, 2012

    […] last week has passed in a blur of sleepless nights and busy days.  After the initial shock of my father’s death I had expected the days leading up to the funeral to be filled with shared reminiscences and happy […]

  3. Benches, broken noses and birthdays « Sleepless in silence in suburbia - March 24, 2012

    […] wife was due to give birth in mid August and there was obviously a gaping hole left by the recent death of my father.  I can normally feel the stress of everyday life leaving me as the Balamory-style ferry reaches […]

  4. Sleepless in silence in suburbia - May 23, 2012

    […] interviewed on radio and TV. The subject of his book, After the Crash, resonates deeply with me. Like my father his wife was killed in a car crash but his young son was in the car with her and Martin barely had time to grieve as all his energy […]

  5. Empire State of Mind « Sleepless in silence in suburbia - June 15, 2012

    […] bonding session I’d hoped we’d have when we were there two years ago shortly after my father was killed in a car crash. On that trip emotions were too raw as we tried to adjust to life as a family with a gaping hole […]

  6. One Year On – We really ARE copying with the deaf diagnosis. Yay! « Sleepless in silence in suburbia - September 25, 2012

    […] say that when you experience a death in the family you shouldn’t make important decisions for at least a year. I wish someone had told me that the […]

  7. Controlled crying. For or against? « Sleepless in silence in suburbia - February 8, 2013

    […] I started this blog, long before my father’s car crash or our baby’s deaf diagnosis, the biggest drama in my life was sleep deprivation. Even post […]

  8. From Publisher to TV Presenter | Sleepless in silence in suburbia - March 15, 2013

    […] for yourself that you can truly empathise with other people. It was only when I experienced bereavement that I appreciated the shock and sadness that death brings. It was only when my son was diagnosed […]

  9. Disability is not a box to be ticked it’s a day to day reality | Sleepless in silence in suburbia - May 20, 2013

    […] wished for our little boy not to be deaf.  She hadn’t.  The 8 year old had wished that my father hadn’t died in the car crash and could come back to life.  I was astonished by their […]

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