This is the third post for Ruth Synder’s Writers’ Blog Hop. This week, it’s a character sketch about our hero. My hero is my dad. I wanted to share a little about him and how he impacted my life.
My new life
I stared miserably through the car window. Thick grey fog danced around us. My dad’s face gazed rigidly ahead. He looked like he was getting ready to take a photograph. My mother sat solemnly beside him, mouth spiralled into a frown. Next to me in the back of the beige Morris Minor car sat my little sister. Her eyes roamed over my body like a revolving yo-yo.
‘So, this is England and my new family.’ I thought gloomily trying to fight the tears from occupying my eyes.
We were on our way to my new life with a new family I didn’t know. I pined for my other sisters and grandmother I left in Jamaica. The family I desperately missed.
My mind raced back to visions of the fiery afternoon sun. Me running barefoot on the sandy beach. Memories of laughter echoed around me, as I daringly tried to climb the coconut tree in my auntie’s back yard. That was three weeks ago.
Now here I am, thousands of miles away. A teenager wrenched away from the bosoms of home comforts.
That was my first day in the UK. The day I met my mum and dad. They left Jamaica when I was four.
My dad, Franklin, was a good-looking, quiet, humble man. He stayed at home a lot when he wasn’t working. Sometimes I would go door knocking with him, when he did his Jehovah’s Witnesses’ rounds.
My relationship with my dad deepened quickly. He became my best friend. I was able to talk to him about anything.
He had a strange sense of humour. My dad used to burp after eating his meals. He’d look at me, then at my sister and say, “Excuse me. It’s the beans.”
We would reply, “Which beans?”
“The human beans.” It became a pattern with him. But we always laughed at his weird jokes.
Another classic one was, “Forgive my friend for being rude. It wasn’t me. It was my food.”
He was my support after I left home to have my family. I called him for advice many times. He always had a wise word for me. No matter what I was going through. If it meant him coming to London from Birmingham to sort out disputes, he’d be there.
In my second marriage, he gave me away by saying, “June, I’m giving you away again. Please don’t come back.” He was the highlight at my wedding reception. My dad was the best dancer on the floor.
Gone too soon
Sadly, in January 2000 he became ill with prostate cancer. It broke my heart to see him in so much pain. He lost a lot of weight and was half the size he used to be. He was still optimistic during his illness. He told me that he had planned to decorate his house. I even told him that I was going to help him with the decorating.
Unfortunately, the cancer spread. He had to go into a hospice.
I had a phone call from one of my sisters one night, telling me that dad needed an operation. The cancer spread to his throat. They operated and removed his voice box. He wasn’t able to speak after that. My dad lost all hope of living. He gave up.
He died shortly after the operation. I was at his bedside when he passed away. It was one of the saddest days of my life. He was only 68.
I wrote this poem for him. It was read at his funeral:
Gone But Not Forgotten
Only yesterday you laughed and reminisced with us,
Shared your thoughts and life’s experiences.
You watched the seasons changing colours
And gave us joy by being in our lives.
Your light will forever burn on in our hearts,
Brimming with love of the captured memories of you;
The rock that stood so strong and proud,
Full of wisdom, care, kindness and understanding.
The treasured moments shared with you remains unspoilt,
The gentle smile on your face, will never fade.
Memories of you lay scattered everywhere,
Because you were loved by many and adored by all.
I didn’t spend many years with my dad. But the years I shared with him was special and I will always treasure them.