So last week Monday my father, Derrek died suddenly. He was found on that morning dead on the floor. We have no idea what happened as with folks his age they no longer do an autopsy unless foul play is suspected.
It’s possible his heart just stopped (he had a triple bypass many years ago) or perhaps he fell and bashed his head. At 85 neither are at all surprising.
My father had a long life, well passed his 3 score and 10 with a very adventurous latter life. He was in the early stages of Alzheimers’, and as a Carer for the elderly, I am grateful he went fast. Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease and can reduce people to empty shells of themselves, disabled and dependent, incontinent and unable to remember family members never mind themselves…sometimes slipping out of the fugues for a moment or two they suddenly realise that they have been ‘gone’ for a while; this is very distressing for all concerned.
Today was his memorial service. His wishes were to be cremated, which he was last week, and he wanted his ashes scattered in the Clovelly wetlands in Cape Town, his home town for decades, and apparently one of his favourite places…..there is so much I do not know about my father.
I didn’t fly home for the service, my Dad and I had spoken only once in the last 4 years….
mostly through choice on both our sides I guess….although I did send him messages for his birthdays, messages that were never returned….as well as which I am working, and would have lost out on over nearly £2,000 of income, and I simply do not have the funds to pay out for a flight to South Africa…
But this year he did, out of the blue, phone me for my 60th birthday….to be honest I have no recollection of the phone call but my daughter assures me he did and that it was a very nice call in which he for the first time in more years than I can count, asked about what I was doing and how things were in my life…..I have a vague sense of the call, but I seem to have blocked it for some reason, or perhaps the excitement of the day took it right our of my head….my daughter took me for a helicopter ride over London that day!!
Very co-incidentally my sister Sioux was here in the UK on the day we received the news….she had only just arrived a week or so before after having planned the journey for quite some time.
Neither of us could afford to fly back. So since we did not fly back for the memorial service/wake, we each wrote a message to be read out at the service…..this is what I said:
Eulogy for Dad
Hello to all from London. Thanks in advance to Paul who has kindly agreed to read my missive…..I never use 5 words when 50 will suffice…..I hope you don’t fall asleep. LOL.
My ever grateful thanks to my dearest sister Caroline for standing in for absent siblings. For being a tower of strength and love for Valerie and Deidre in the days following Derrek’s passing.
As a brief introduction to those who have never met me, I am Derrek’s eldest daughter Cindy…now living in London and soon (hopefully) to be a British Citizen…..Dad you could at least have waited till I got my passport!! I was so looking forward to surprising you with a photo of my little red book. Oh well.
Firstly as the eldest of my father’s numerous offspring, may I just say thank you all for attending Derrek’s memorial service and for supporting my siblings…. I am sure he will be well pleased to see you all here. All with completely different memories of the man we knew either as Derrek or Daddy.
I’d like to send my loving wishes and massive hugs to my family, those who were able to attend and those who due to circumstances were not. I love you all and I’m immensely proud of each and every one of you.
Firstly to Valerie for being the, from what I’ve seen, amazing executrix of his estate and for organising and arranging and being there for your little sister and big brother. What a gem you are. I’m sorry for your loss honey, I have no doubt that Dad would be awesomely proud of how you have taken on this role and managed it so well despite your pain.
To Kevin, my little brother… I am truly sorry for your loss, I know you had a really good relationship with Dad and will miss him terribly. I’m glad you have so many wonderful memories, like riding with him through Europe behind the Tour de France some years ago and the many holidays you enjoyed with him.
To Deidre, my littlest sister, I’m sorry for your loss sweetie. I know you too had a good relationship with Dad and will no doubt miss him terribly. I’m so glad he brought you into the world, you are so the spitting image of him and I’m sure he was thrilled that at least one of his many kids followed in his footsteps….accountancy is not for the fainthearted. LOL
And so to my sister Sue, who is by a strange twist of fate (albeit a planned fate) here in the UK, and was with me when we got the phone call. I was able to hug her tightly after we had heard the news…she of course knew immediately she saw Valerie’s number come up on my phone that it had to be Dad….and so it was.
Sue I’m sorry most of all for your loss…..for the many years of sadness you have experienced due to the often fractured relationship you had with the man we called Daddy. I truly wish that life had treated you differently and that you had had the stability of a father who was there for you through thick and thin and loved you unconditionally.
I also have to mention my darling brother Arnold, who is no longer with us, and has been gone from this earthly coil for more years than I care to remember….Arnold, wherever you are I truly hope that you and Dad can now have the loving relationship you so desperately desired. If for no other reason than that, I hope there is a heaven and that you two can now be reconciled and find joy.
To my sister-in-law Timi and my brother-in-law Carlo thank you for being such awesome partners to your respective spouses…..I know my siblings can count on your support through this tough time and I’m sure you will both in your own way miss Derrek/Dad too.
To ALL my father’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren, sorry too for your loss. Your experiences of Grandpa and your memories will all have been very different and the reason for your loss very different too. In an ideal world how wonderful it would have been for you all to have had the traditional relationship…..but sadly it was not to be and for that I have nothing but sadness.
And so to the man I called Daddy, Dad and Derrek depending on where in our relationship or lack of we were. I often muse on how it was that we ended up so often at loggerheads, about how it is that I disappointed you so often, and how often you disappointed me. I wish I could have met or lived up to your expectations. I wish you could have lived up to mine. I guess that now that all is said and done and you’ve moved onto another dimension, whatever it may be, the time for forgiveness is now. And so Daddy I forgive you and most importantly I forgive myself, not just for the anger I had towards you but also for the many days I’ve cried over something I could not control.
I’ve spent the last few days thinking about what to say….what memories I can dredge up that would be suitable for your eulogy. I’ve decided to go with the first of my memories, the last and a few in between because the rest will have to wait for my book…..”This Daddy was my life” Which of course now you’ll never get to read because I’ve spent the last 10 years procrastinating. I do wish you had started yours though…..all your memories are now gone forever….perhaps that too is a trait I inherited from you.
My first memory would have to be the day you took me down into the storm drain in Mondeor because my ball had fallen into it. I remember how terrified my Mother was and how adamant you were that I would be okay…and so I was. And so I am now.
My last memory will of course be that you phoned me for my 60th birthday. Thank you for that it was an amazing surprise and one I did not expect. That is one memory I will now carry with me forever…..It apparently made my day. My daughter, your granddaughter, Cemanthe reminded me that you had indeed phoned. Sorry…..I had forgotten.
The memories in between are the many years that we didn’t speak, the many times and opportunities we had to say sorry but never did, I guess I inherited your stubborn nature. Not too bad a trait at the end of the day, it has certainly gotten me far in life…sometimes good, sometimes not, but overall it has to have been good because here I am…..and Dad, I’m in a really good place in my life. I still say thanks to your father, known as ‘Pu’ for having the good sense to have been born in London! How useful that has turned out!
Also the many memories of the fun times, the ice-creams…damn that is one thing I wish I hadn’t inherited…my hips bear testimony to my love of the stuff. Also, you probably didn’t know this, but one of my life-long daily routines started when I was 14 and came to live with you in Cape Town, albeit briefly. You used to bring me a cup of tea with a biscuit, in bed in the morning before school. I still can’t start my day properly without a cup of tea and a biscuit, except that now I have 2!!! And yes, my favourite is still ginger nuts. Some things never change.
Thank you too for the train set when I turned 7, I just wish you had brought it, I missed you that day.
I still, after 43 years, wish you had agreed to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day….it still hurts that you refused.
But hey, thanks for my middle name…..I never forget to mention that it’s my Dad’s name…it’s not every girl that gets her Father’s name as a middle name. When people say “but that’s a boy’s name” I always reply, “Yes, it’s my Dad’s name”.
And so Dad, Daddy, in closing I would like to say that despite all the anger, I did love you….mostly.
I wish I could have made you proud, perhaps I did, you never said. One thing I do know for sure though, your adventurous nature has infiltrated my genes…..for that I have to thank you…..I get loads of mileage out of telling people how my Father, in his 80’s, travelled around Europe on his own, on a bicycle….bloody good job old man…..for that I am terribly proud of you and I hope to follow in your tyre tracks one day, only I’ll be walking not cycling. Shame we never got to do the Camino together after all. It was fun talking about it though.
But guess what Dad, I still plan to do it!! I have my eye on the horizon and many travel plans for the future….look out for a yellow campervan meandering around Great Britain and Europe, your daughter and occasionally your grand-daughter will be out adventuring….just don’t hold your breath for a postcard….I’m not sure Royal Mail deliver that far.
Happy travels, I hope your bike has wings to take you far….say hello to all the folks who went before.
Till we meet again.
Rest in peace old man……I know you will be missed. Your daughter Cindy Alan Eve.
Oh and p.s. Perhaps Escom should have kept you on….seems they’ve mucked things up somewhat since you left.”
And that is a brief synopsis of my life with and without my father….time has now caught up with us and there will never be the opportunity to reconcile, to put the hurt and anger behind us…..to perhaps create good memories…..to be close again as we were when I was a little girl. I wonder if, had we known that he would die this year, that we would have put our pride aside and reconciled….now I’ll never know. What I do know is that it’s so important to put perceived and actual hurts and slights aside, to lose the stubbornness and put anger away and tell people how much they mean to us and how loved they are. I wonder thought if we, my Dad and I would have…..