Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Always On My Mind

“For the heart, life is simple: it beats for as long as it can. Then it stops.” 

- Karl Ove Knausgård -

Dad’s heart stopped beating six months ago today. I miss him terribly, and I can’t wait the full year’s mourning to say so … even if I virtually ignored my poor father for the last 30 years of his life. Not deliberately, of course. But you’ll agree that two visits a year and one monthly phone call from me was a far from impressive performance. Pat, my oldest sister, fared even worse: one visit every two or three years if I could struggle all the way up to Coventry, plus a phone call on her birthday. Both Pat and Dad were always in my thoughts, of course. And now that it’s too late to tell them, even more so. 

All of which leaves us with just photographs and memories. Personally, I don't remember much about our family holiday in August 1962, but Dad's memoirs, My Life So Far (1999), never fail to entertain me ...

1962 – MARGATE  (Kent) – Boarding house near station – Weather: mixed
August (1 week) with  Pat, Debbie and Mike – by Keith Bryant’s car

Keith took ages because of traffic jams and getting lost. The boarding house was close to Margate Station and the racket kept us awake the first night. This was the cheapest board ever (£4 per week each for us; less for the children). The food was good! 

Classic Dad! He persuades a friend to give us a lift to the coast, and then slags him off in his diary for his poor driving skills and lousy sense of direction! 

Margate, August 1962: Mum, Mike, Deb, Pat, Dad

Dad continues:

Sitting on the beach on Sunday afternoon, we lost Pat. I got frantic, looking for her. (Myrtle had to feed Mike who was four months old.) People brought Pat back (she’d been playing on the sand and went to the wrong hut) but Deb got sun-stroke and I had to take her to the doctor next day. 

So all's well that end's well. And I'm pleased to see that Mum had her priorities right: "Stop fretting, David. First, I'm going to give Mike his lunch. Then, I'll help you look for Pat. OK? Oh, where did Debbie go?"

Talking of Mum, perhaps I''ll give her a quick call before I forget ...

Wycombe, April 2014: Deb, Sue, Mum, Brian, Mike


  1. Families. You don't realise how important they are until it's too late.
    I left the army and settled in Germany on a whim. Now, with two kids of my own, and one of them absolutely glorying in the fact she's half Welsh, now I feel the need for my family and home in Wales nearly every day.
    I love my wife, I love my German friends, where we live, it all fits together lovely. (Hate my job)
    However, I miss my family in Wales terribly.
    Lovely post, mate.
    Was your dad's book published?

  2. Thanks for reading and commenting, Reggie. Really appreciate it! I'll reply properly later, but I knew you'd understand exactly how I feel :)