I have been reflecting a lot over the past few weeks about my dad. A few weeks back it was 20 years to the day since he had died. I remembered when we were on route to Bristol…I popped a comment on Facebook about having a drink for him and I got an amazing response from nearly 4000 of you guys (heart) so felt it was time to post a different story about Fathers Day.
My dad died when I was 19. Mum had died 3 years earlier when I was 16…read this post for that story. I proceeded to spend my late teenage years going off the rails some would say; drank a lot, went out a lot, mixed with a few people I should not have done and mixed with some amazing people (MT rest in peace and GB you were definitely a right one).
Beneath this behaviour was some sense. My dad was old school at home, mum had done everything for him. So I had to step in and run the house, shopping, washing, ironing, dusting. This could explain why I resent all these jobs now??!! This went on for a while until Eve came along, a close friend of my mum & dads. She and my dad got together, and she started running the house. That made me happy. I was a bit shocked when they got married 2 years after mum died, I’ll save that story for my book.
The sense refers to me always knowing I was clever. Teachers at school and college were brilliant and really encouraged my education (Miss Dangerfield you were an eccentric and brilliant A-level maths teacher) and drove me to perform well in my A-levels to get to university. Despite the Thurs/Fri/Sat nights spent binge drinking, I still studied and did well in my A-levels. Not quite well enough to go first choice Warwick, but I did get into second choice Brunel University in West London to study Mathematics with Statistics and Management, some of the best years of my life.
My Dad Died
The first year of university saw me continue to go off the rails…but I actually sought counselling, mainly because my friend Julie told me I was being a bitch and ordered me to get help (thanks Julie). I still screwed up my first year in terms of study, however in May 1999, 1 week before my final first year exams I got the phone call about my dad.
It is really strange because I had spent a lot of the past three years almost predicting that my dad was going to die. I kept imagining life with no parents, if one parent could die, so could the other. It is a proven phenomenon that when one partner dies the other often follows (normally when older 70’s/80’s) but my dad had got remarried so surely he would be fine.
May 28th 1999, 8:30am, I got the phone call from my sister to say that dad had died in the night from a heart attack. He had been out during the evening at some British Legion function, he loved the legion, at least happy during his last night. Whilst getting ready for bed, keeled over and just died. My step-mum was there when it happened which was a) good that he didn’t just lie there dying but b) how awful for her to be in that situation, I cannot imagine it.
The Chaos Ensues
I was in London and my family were in Penzance, Cornwall. They drove up to get me. I had a long wait that day. It was the week before exams so not many people were about, none of my close friends. I remember Craig, one of the lads we hung around with just hugging me as he heard me screaming down the phone at 8:30 am in the morning outside his flat. My boyfriend at the time was about and we literally spent the day waiting, just lying on his bed, in the cell like rooms of P-block flats our student accommodation, waiting. The day your dad dies is a strange day, all I can remember is feeling numb. But an overriding feeling of ‘I knew this was going to happen’.
My sister arrived to take me back to Penzance at about 4pm that afternoon. I remember nothing of the journey home, the following day or the day after that. I remember no conversations with friends, family, random people. But you know what, the exams I was just about to fail at the end of my first year, I was given a condoned pass and didn’t have to retake anything. Dad you maybe saved my first year of my degree by dying.
So back to current day. I reflect on the past a lot with my friend Becky. We got talking about security last time we met and why security (safe job, house, money) is so important to me. Of course it struck me like a lightning bolt. Again another story for the book, but my step-mum inherited all my parent’s money. And she sold the house. My house that I had lived in for 18 years with the red dahlias in the garden and my cooler than cool attic bedroom. My ultimate security was gone at the age of 19. Not my parents dying but my base and money. So not only at the age of 19 was I an orphan but I was also homeless and penniless. An interesting experience that has effected my adult life in so many ways.
Losing your parents is one of the most awful things ever. I know there are things that are worse….I really do. But losing your parents, your security, your guidance, your role models is truly unbearable. For me as a teenager it was the worst thing in the world. There you go I have said. I was literally the only person I knew in this situation…and it was so unfair. So unfair. But life’s not fair.
Moving on and Healing
But time does heal and how you deal with the toughest times shapes you as a person. 20 years on and May/June are tough months. I have the death anniversary of both mum and dad to deal with, plus father’s day and mum’s birthday. It hurts me so much to think about things they are missing in person, but not in spirit. My dad would be simply bursting with pride watching Dylan and Josh play football. And the introduction of cricket this summer, would probably make Dylan 100% perfect to him.
I am a strong willed, competitive, assertive woman who is caring, loyal and genuine. I am this way because of my up-bringing by an equally strong woman, my mum and also the pain of my parents dying at such a young age. The ultimate of sad experiences as a young person can turn you into the most incredible adult. So whatever you are going through you can turn it into a positive. I’ve done pretty well……
Frederick Newman Beattie – died 27th.May 1996 aged 63yrs. Enlisted into SCLI.in February 1964. Previously served as a Royal Marine from 1951 till 1963. Had been awarded RN.GSM with clasps for Suez and the Middle East. Was posted after training at the LI Depot Shrewsbury to 1 SCLI in Berlin, by the end of 1964 he had been promoted to Cpl, saw service in Norway and Aden, he was awarded the GSM with clasp for Aden and in 1969 the LSGC Medal. He was at one stage a Recruiting NCO at the Redruth Office. He retired from the Army in 1974 as a C/Sgt.
Dad then went to RNAS Culdrose in Helston Cornwall, serving as an MOD officer, dog handler, until he retired age 60 in 1993.