It took me all of a few seconds to decide what my first post would be about. It seems rather fitting that my first blog post is about my dad. Today merely typing the word ‘dad’ brings a smile to my face, tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. Even though dad has been gone for over 10 years now he is still very much part of my life and he lives on through his 3 grand children which he sadly never got a chance to meet. Our 7 year old daughter Bella has the same happy whistle as dad, our 5 year old son Will sits in chairs with his fingers interlocked and his hands behind his head exactly the same as dad would and then there is our 4 year old nephew Jaden who likes to tinker with stuff out in the garage just like dad use to.
Grief is a funny thing… When I was about 8 years old my dad had to have a triple by pass, ironic that it was his heart that was giving him grief because he had the biggest and kindest heart of any one I know. I remember thinking that if any thing ever happened to dad I wouldn’t be able to live. I remember going to a funeral with the family when we were little. Dad said to us that ‘death was the one certain thing in life’ and that ‘the worlds just keeps on going when someone dies’. The day dad died I can remember it as if it was yesterday. I was teaching in a small, country school and I was out on the field with a safety helmet and a harness on. I was about to climb up a tall wall and then jump to a trapeze. The school secretary came running out and told me the phone was for me. It was in that moment that I knew my dad had died. Mum and dad’s next door neighbour was on the phone and told me that dad had been working under one of his cars and it had come off its jacks and had crushed him to death. I fell to my knees while the secretary hugged me and I cried. It took me about 50 minutes to drive to town where I met my boyfriend at the time. I just cried the whole drive. When I got home we packed our bags, it was a 3.5 hour drive to get back to mum and dad’s house. At this point I stopped crying, I bizarrely told my boyfriend to stop and get KFC of all things. I guess I was in shock. The 3.5 hour drive home was in silence, but all I wanted to know was he didn’t suffer? I couldn’t bare it, if dad suffered. To this day I haven’t been able to get past the first line of the autopsy report where they said dad had vomit in his mouth. The only way I can really cope with his unexpected death is believing that it was a quick, painless death. Like I said, even thinking that dad was in pain, was suffering, was calling out for help, and I wasn’t there to help him is too much for me to bare. When I walked into the family home my one and only sibling Ngaire was wearing one of dads jersey’s, as soon as I saw her we hugged and then the tears started all over again as we both grieved for our loss.
After the autopsy was done we brought dad back home and he was never left alone. Ngaire and I both took turns sleeping next to him and Ben (his dog he took home after one of his friends funeral) never left his side. The following days the family home was filled with laughter and tears with family and friends remembering just what a great man William John Connolly was. I always new how special my dad was but to see so many grown men cry because of the death of dad, was a moving experience. There were definitely lots of times straight after dad’s death that I just wanted to be by myself, which for some people they struggled with because all they wanted to do was to try help, but for me the best way to help was to leave me alone until I was ready.
Growing up my sister and I were like many sisters, we used to fight and I remember either Ngaire or I running around the kitchen table chasing one another with a pair of scissors, but as we grew older I guess I became less of a pain of a little sister and we are now the best of friends even though we live countries apart (thank goodness for Skype!). When dad died I remember the 3 Connolly girls (mum included) we argued, which wasn’t us, which was something dad wouldn’t want but I guess that was the grief talking. For a while I remember Ngaire being angry at dads death and that was how she dealt with it, there is no wrong or right way to deal with it I think. You just deal with it in your own way. For me I looked at it a bit differently. Obviously I was heart broken about dad’s death but being a teacher I saw children who had father’s who didn’t care about their children, I knew some father’s who didn’t deserve to be fathers because they physically or emotionally abused their kids or they did both, I knew of other people who never got to know their fathers because they died when they were young or because they had deserted them. So for me I was honoured and blessed to be able to have had such an amazing father in my life for 24 years. Dad never told us he loved us (he did in birthday cards) but through his actions I knew he loved us deeply. That saying rings true… ‘actions speak louder than words’.
Even though dad is no longer physically with us on Earth, when ever I make big decisions I always ask myself ‘what would dad think, would he be proud?’. It’s hard knowing that our kids will never get to meet my dad, but they do know him. I talk to our kids about dad. He also never got a chance to meet my husband John, but I know he would more than approve. Both my husband and my sister’s husband have the same values as dad and are both quite similar to him; that’s the biggest compliment I could ever pay some one because my dad was a truly amazing man. Dad wasn’t a religious man but his actions were more pure than most.
So what have I learnt about death of a loved one? Even though in that moment when you feel like you can’t go on because they are no longer on this Earth, the world keeps moving and each day you wake up and for a while it is all about just surviving through the day. Eventually you do feel like you can breathe again and you begin to notice things that make you smile. But there are always days when some thing as simple as a smell, a song, a sound , a word can bring you to tears as you remember your loved one. For me I am grateful because I was lucky to have dad in my life for 24 years. Even though he isn’t with me physically I know my dad, he would never leave me so I take strength knowing that he walks next to me everyday. And I have a life full of happy memories that no one can take from me.
(a photo of my dad)
Love you dad xxxxB