Yesterday afternoon my Dad, Roy, passed away. He had suffered a major heart attack and cardiac arrest in the 3rd August at Worcester hospital. At the time we were thankful that Mum had sensed something was very wrong and had phoned an ambulance but now two and half weeks later there is part of me that wonders if it wouldn’t have been better for all of us if she hadn’t. He seemed to rally and was transferred to Coventry hospital to undergo a double bypass. There was concern about his strength: he had prostrate cancer and had undergone some five hernia operations during his life, had terrible arthritis in his hands and had had two replacement knees. The doctors waited a week and Tuesday was the day for the operation. We visited Monday night and he was laughing and joking with us about the mobile we had bought him so he could stay in touch with Mum – Dad was very much still in the 20th century and found modern technology quite baffling. Sadly what should have been a routine operation wasn’t and his heart failed and we lost him.
My Dad’s passion was aviation. On leaving school at 15 he trained as a draughts man with an aviation firm. As time progressed he became a sales engineer in the aviation industry and when I was about 10 he took a big step and set up a subsidiary company of a French aviation firm here in the UK. The company sold oxygen and fuel gauge systems to all the major aviation companies in the UK; of which there were many back then. Interestingly whilst in hospital he met a chap with a similar background and they spent a jolly hour or so comparing stories and listing all the old aviation companies – I think they came up with 16. He often lamented the decline of the industry in this country. As children my sister and I grew up in a world dominated with aviation. The names of all the major companies were second place to us, we went to the biannual Farnborough airshow on the opening day and were blasé about sitting in the ‘good’ seats while Tornadoes wiped past and Harrier Jump-Jets did their amazing stunts and bowed to the audience. Seeing the Red Arrows display close up wasn’t an unusual event for us. I even used to sit in the pilot’s seat that Dad had on his exhibition stand with a pilots oxygen mask on my head – how cool was I.
I often think that Dad would have liked to have had two sons rather than daughters. My sister, being a tom boy, shared my Dad’s interests and spent time in her early teens learning to fly model planes with him. As for me, well he tried, he encouraged me at the age of 18 to spend a week learning to fly gliders. Not many people know that I know how to get a glider out of a spin and can land one – well that’s if I can still remember what to do. Outside of work Dad’s hobby was radio model planes. He built beautiful models spending hours on the details. Once built he would disappear off to one of the flying clubs he belonged to, to fly his planes. However, despite being a good flyer for one reason or another he sometimes came home with a pile of bits rather than a plane but he would set too and patiently rebuild the plane – I admire his tenacity. My youngest son shared his love of radio model planes and Dad taught him to fly them and gain his first licence. Sadly, Matt won’t have the opportunity to start building models again now he has finished University, only this Monday he and Dad started to talk about what they could build.
Dad was typical of his generation and found it hard to show emotion or even praise. He often seemed in recent years bemused by the world and how it had changed. Often trying to understand technology but laughing at his own inability to grasp it. He worried about me not remarrying – to him it was wrong for me to bring my sons up on my own despite me telling him it was my choice; he would have loved for me to find someone to look after me. We are alike in many ways and talking to Mum over the last 48 hours I have realised how much alike we actually are – in some ways this last 48 hours has not only been about losing Dad but understanding myself better.
The last five years were often difficult for Dad. He never really came to terms with losing my sister suddenly five years ago but then I don’t think any parent comes to terms with losing a child no matter how old they are. Two years ago he was diagnosed with cancer and last September Mum had a stroke which although she is more or less recovered affected Dad and sometimes put a strain on their relationship. I tried telling her that given that they have been married for some 53 years it’s not surprising they should disagree from time to time. But stroke survivors often suffer from strong mood swings and despite knowing this Dad struggled with this aspect of Mum during the last 6 months.
Dad is the only man I have ever respected. I love him very much and will miss him terribly even though at times he drove me mad with his fussing. He was a kind, generous, clever, talented and had a lovely sense of humour.
Like my blogging friend Elizabeth I have been in two minds about writing this post but like Elizabeth this blog is a record of my life as well as my garden and so I feel a need to write this post however I am turning off the comments as although I appreciate them I don’t feel able to cope with kind words right now.