Can you remember when you were eight years old? I can, a little. I can remember walking around the side of the garage at my childhood home and my Dad saying to me. ‘You need to pull your socks up young man.’ Such an old fashioned saying, haven’t heard it for years. My Dad would have been thirty eight years old then. He’s eight three now. Doesn’t look like he’s going to make eighty four. He has Stage four prostate cancer and he’s fading slowly, slowly, bit by bit.
That phrase ‘pull your socks up,’ reminds me of so many things. Makes me look back at my childhood. I was a mischievious kid, always in trouble. Hyperactive and never able to sit still. I needed to pull my socks up on plenty of occasions. Still need to do so now at times. Just say it to myself and it generally works.
With my Dad dying, (there I’ve said it), I guess it’s made me look at the nature of my relationship with him and reflect on the said and the unsaid. What I mean by that is whether we’ve said and done what we needed to say and do. I know he’s reflecting on his life, can see it in his old eyes.
Surprisingly I’m not upset by the fact that he’s dieing and won’t be here for much longer. I have come to terms with it. I’m not sure that he has yet, but I think he’s getting there.
So have we said what we needed to, done what we have to? I think we probably have. Nothing is perfect and nothing is forever. He’s my Dad and that’s enough.
I took my twenty three year old son with me when I saw him a couple of days ago. I had to go and talk sensible stuff with his doctors. When I came back, I stood at an angle where they couldn’t see me and quietly observed. My son is in the RAF, my Dad was in the Navy over sixty years ago. And there they were, as complete equals. My Dad has been a bit confused lately, but he was there with my son, in their own moment, sharing the joys of their military adventures. And I could see that just for that moment my Dad was there, on a ship watching a spectacular sun rise and dreaming of a life to come.
Life is so short and so special. I know that Dads are meant to give their sons all the advice, but if I could give my Dad any it would be. ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff Dad, you did okay.’