I wasn’t sure whether to post this or not; moving away, starting a new life as an expat, a trailing spouse, made me realise the last twenty-nine years of my life still exists. Everything that has happened, albeit in a different country, has still happened and it’s made me who I am today. Writing this letter feels like another step in the process of starting a new chapter, acknowledging the parts of the story already written. So I wrote a letter to my Dad.
Since moving overseas I’ve had to complete a few security forms for the British Embassy that detail everything from what I had for breakfast two weeks ago to my GCSE results from more than a decade ago. I’ve also had to provide information on my parents’ middle names, birth towns and addresses, easy enough – but as I was searching for the address of the care home you lived at, it hit me that four years have passed since the last time I saw you.
I didn’t know what was going to happen on Saturday 20th July 2013, but it changed my life forever.
You looked so unimaginably different, you looked small and sad and weak. I sat next to you afraid to hold your hand because you looked like a stranger to me, I didn’t want it to be real. Everyone always says last words are so important but you couldn’t speak in your final hours, and nor could I for being too too sad, so we sat side by side, silently, waiting.
You missed some pretty key milestones since 2013; I bought my first house, got engaged, got married, stood up in front of friends and family in church to speak at your father’s funeral (I did the same at yours, I chose a Queen song to play at the end), moved away to start a new chapter in the Middle East. I wish I could have called you and told you about all of these things, but it’s also been easier, maybe because I couldn’t call you or write to you or ignore you or feel sad on my wedding day knowing you were a few hundred miles away. Once you passed I was devastated but finally I didn’t have to make any more heart rendering decisions.
Long after your passing came acceptance, I didn’t have to feel guilty anymore, the choice had been taken away from me, now I can remember you with a smile on my face. There is a scene in one of my favourite TV shows where a character’s father dies and he calls out ‘but I’m not ready for this’ it breaks my heart whenever I see that scene, but I was ready, you had been ill for such a long time and endured a miserable last few years that I think you were ready too. Mum said she thinks you were just waiting for someone to go and see you, so you knew you were cared about, unforgotten, so you could finally slip away and rest.
I think about you every day, always have and probably always will. You were so far from perfect, you weren’t a good husband, a good son or a good father, but when I look at photographs I can see my face in yours; small pale eyes, freckled skin and wide chubby cheeks. All I hope is that you were proud of me and thought about me too. You let me down, but maybe I let you down too, we’ll never know, if you’d been a better father and I’d been a better daughter maybe we could have rebuilt a relationship.
Your carer Linda spoke at your funeral, her last words were “for a long time we’ll say ‘remember Andrew Naismith?’”. She was right.
Your daughter x