Sunday, 10 November 2013

Decades and Dad

Tonight I lit my 10th candle of remembrance since my lovely Daddy passed away.  While December 2nd is usually the time that floors me on this subject, this year it is the candle lighting that has done it and I have spent the day being quiet and sleepy, helped by the kids being at classes this morning and then hubby taking them to the football match without me.

This allowed me to pass the time half conscious, reading without taking much in, happy in the silence of the house, vaguely thinking about eating and drinking and what to feed everyone later.  And looking through the box of letters and emails and nic-nacs that I have from my Dad.

As I put on my Facebook update today, alongside one of the last and happiest photos I have of me and him, my Dad has missed out on all of the things that define me as me.  His death heralded the start of all that came next and culminated in who I am now - A mum, a mum of two boys, a mum of two boys one of whom is genetically complex, a working mum of two boys, a working mum whose career is in TV.

Everything I am stems from being a mum, the one thing that I was trying (and failing) to be when my Dad was still alive.  One of the things that he and I would argue about, when I talked of what would happen if and when I got pregnant, was my assertion that I wouldn't give up my career and would continue to work.  He disagreed, quoting as I re-read today, the birds and bees and nature to strengthen his argument about why things have always been as they were.  We agreed to disagree on this, as we did on so many things.  My feminist egalitarian views were well honed in my conversations with my dear old fashioned Daddy.

I was right, as I knew I would be though, about becoming a working mum.  As my last post shows, I have always worked and by living in London with a career that I fought hard to get and then keep, I can't see how I could have done it differently.  But nowadays, it's the mum bit of the working mum label that defines me, not the other.  So maybe my Dad did know best.

I remember when my career used to define me.  I spent a good six months talking about it to an amazing therapist, not long after my gorgeous friend Charlotte suddenly died and 6 months after I lost my Dad.  When I left Sky and took a step back soon after to look after my poorly little baby, when people asked what I did, I used to say what I used to be. "I used to run drama at Sky, I used to be a TV exec".  Once I realised I was doing this, and was genuinely unsure if I would be able to make it back to that career and life, I stopped saying that and instead tried to work out who was left after work had gone, who stared back at me in the mirror every morning.

As I also said in my last post, I am lucky to be back in the TV game with a lovely job and a good balance.  As part of my current role, on a recent work trip I got to challenge myself with taking part in a conference, met a couple of amazing and inspirational TV people, and listened to Shimon Peres open his mind and heart in an audience I will never forget.

On my journey to this trip I lost a talisman that I had carried around with me since 2003.  It was a beautifully embroidered handkerchief from my grandma and there was on it a little crystal badge that my mum gave me when I was 18, and a tie pin I took from my Dad's bedside pot after he had died, which said Mazel (luck in Hebrew) on it.

Over the years I had lost and found this lovely thing and in recent times it lived in my travel bag. Standing in the passport queue I realised it had fallen from my pocket, and as I worked out how I felt, I realised I was sanguine and sad.  Because in the dark of that flight, as I transferred it from bag to pocket, I had a little meditation and moment, realising that life wasn't like it was back when I first brought those three things together.

That I was no longer the child needing mazel and protection from my parents.  That instead I am the parent giving that security and love to my boys, and I love my Mum with the protection of a daughter and equal, not merely a child.

I mourn my father's loss while knowing that this life I have built doesn't have a chair put aside for him, but I thank and credit him for something that he did in his death that was more important than either of us could have realised.

At the moment of his death, after those last hours of sitting with him and trying not to match his breathing as it slowed, I told him to let go and that we would all be fine.  With those words and as I watched him slip away, something hardened in me that has never softened since.

He gave me the gift of coping, of not falling apart, even when your life has turned on a penny.  I barely cried and instead put on a whole new costume of maturity that I am absolutely sure is the reason I got through the horrible 6 or 7 years that followed that night back in December 2003.

My Dad helped me grow up enough to be this strong, capable mum that I need to be for my boys, the wife to my man, the sister to my siblings, the daughter to my Mum, the Sara to my friends and the me for me.

He did that, unfortunately in death rather than helping me along in life as it played out.  A last sacrifice that allows me gently miss what I feel I never really had but knowing that it all led to that moment.

People have said then as they do now, that he would be proud of me, and I agree.
He would be proud of my strength through the crappy stuff and enjoy the headlines and announcements of the work stuff along the way.  He would love my boys and marvel at their hardiness.  He would I hope not be squeamish and fill me with support and wisdom at the trials of the "special mum" part of me.  He would also hate so much of what and how we have decided to do things and I know that we would have clocked up many more rows that currently sit on my tally.

I will never forget all that has happened in this last decade since my Dad died, but I am so happy to be moving on from it.  To be moving forwards sane, happy, health and in a purple patch for work and home.

So thank you Daddy, for all you gave me in your life, and all the coping I was forced to do in your death.  You helped to make me who I am and me and my boys carry a little of you with us wherever we go.

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