Today marked the 20th anniversary of my Dad's passing. In some ways it feels like another lifetime but in others it feels like it happened this morning. 09:10 this morning marked exactly 20 years.
I remember the most arb things. I remember staying up that Sunday night to watch South Africa play their 1st test since readmission against the West Indies. I remember checking up on my Mom and Dad during the night. I remember sitting next to my Dad's bed, holding his hand. I remember the smells. I remember going to bed at 07:00 that morning. I remember the sudden call to get to the bedroom at 09:05. I remember my Mom, my Sister, Barbara the Hospice nurse, My Granddad and me in the bedroom. I remember my Dad opening his eyes and staring at the ceiling above us. I remember him stopping breathing and then suddenly taking another deep breath. I remember that being the last sound he ever made. I remember having Eric Clapton's "tears in heaven" in my head that whole morning. I remember going to Markhams to buy a nice jacket and pants to wear to the funeral. I remember my Mom climbing into the car after going to see my Dad at the funeral home and bawling her eyes out. I remember my friends around the grave. I remember...
I have had so many emotions about my Dad over the last 20 years. I never had the best relationship with him but I did cherish the last 3 months we had together. I concentrated on the bad times a lot and I feel really guilty about it. I wish we had the normal father son relationship but that was never meant to be. I never watched a rugby match with my Dad. My Mom did that with me. I never watched cricket with my Dad. My Mom did that with me. I never spoke about girls to my Dad. My Mom did that with me. It was never a normal Father Son relationship. My Mom did that with me.
I played many rugby and cricket matches at school. Do you know which one I remember? The ONE rugby match my Dad came to watch. An under 11 match, on a cold Saturday morning. Must have been in 1981. I remember seeing my Dad next to the field and playing terribly. Freezing literally and figuratively. I remember how I punted a certain golfer to win the Million Dollar back in the day and him winning. But I remember even more how my Dad came home from work that Sunday night and telling my Mom how I picked the winner on the Thursday already. I was in bed, not supposed to be awake. I'm glad I was. I remember becoming Headboy of my school but I remember even more clearly how my Dad told everybody who wanted to, or didn't want to listen, about it.
I'm slowly coming to terms with my Dad and me. I know he loved me. He was hard on me but he loved me. He fought his own demons every day of his life but he loved me. We never had money but we never lacked food, or a warm bed. He made sure we were looked after. He loved me.
Dad, after 20 years, I think I'm finally grown up enough to see how much you really loved me. I'm also grown up enough to see how much I've loved you all along.
Rest in peace Dad. I love you and I miss you...