Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Good night; God Bless

George Elliott 19/2/1914 – 9/1/2006

He wasn’t my real father, my blood father, that is, he was my step-father. I have called him Dad ever since he married my Mum when I was six years old and we moved from the city to a small village in Derbyshire to live at his home. My own father died of leukemia and I do have vague memories of him. I remember hiding under the table when he came home from work and then I would jump out shouting Boo. I remember he used to dance me round the room on his feet and play shops with me. I also remember the day of his funeral, the wreaths in the front room and mum crying. Later after I’d been taken to the Museum by a neighbour’s children I came back to the house and all my relatives were there and mum was sitting by the fire with a blanket round her shoulders. A few months later a man came to our door, I can see him now in his bike leathers and gauntlets, I knew then, even at that age, that somehow he was going to be important in our lives.

So there I was, just six, with a new home, in a new and different place with a new school to go to, a new older sister and a dog, a border collie, called Laddie and a new father. This man, who at first I resented for taking my Mum from me, cared for me, looked after me, and gave me holidays at the sea side. He loved my mum and she was happy again. They had been teenage sweethearts, split up, married other partners and lost them to illness and now they were back together. We argued a lot when I was a teenager. He was a sportsman from a sporting family. I loved music, drama and reading, he wanted me to be good at sport, I wasn’t, except for running. When my mother was nursing my grandmother through her last illness Dad was always waiting for me when I got home from school, with a meal on the table. So many little things I think of now, when I look back. He could be cantankerous, self opinionated and argumentative; although we didn’t always see eye to eye we always looked after each other. When my Mum died I sat on his bed and held his hand whilst he poured his heart out. I remember the day I telephoned and when he answered I could tell something was wrong. We alerted my sister and set out on the long journey to see him. He had had a fall and a slight stroke and was taken to hospital, then to a nursing home. Over the last couple of years he hasn’t known us or been aware of who he was but always greeted us with a welcoming smile. When we visited just before Christmas, there was no smile and I think I knew then that it was only a matter of time and so it proved. He died on Monday at 10.30p.m. just as the ambulance arrived at the hospital. I am relieved his suffering is over but I am going to miss him so much. Thank you, Dad.

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