I need some internet sympathy because I’m ill! Two weeks ago my wife developed a bit of a cough, a day later she had completely lost her voice, a weekend of feeling ill later, and a few days off work at the start of the next week, and I was feeling pretty safe. I hadn’t been infected. I was fine…and then the coughing started.
One of the many things I’ve been blessed with in life is a good immune system. If my wife has been sick for a week, I tend to catch it, get sick for a day, and then the next day I’m back to normal as if nothing has happened. Most things run through my system, and disappear again within a day or two, but not this.
So I’m now on day six of feeling pretty horrible, and it would be easy for every day to be like yesterday was, after a night of no sleep, crashing, and spending most of the morning in bed feeling rotten. But for the most part that’s not what’s happened.
By the time my wife had woken up on Monday, I had already spent half an hour job hunting, a couple of hours writing and I’d done the washing up, I felt pretty rotten that morning, but for some reason I pushed through, refused to allow the summer sickness bug to take control and fought back. I almost gritted my teeth, proclaiming “I will be useful today!” And that’s how I woke up this morning as well, determined to push through, and get stuff done, despite feeling awful.
But this isn’t particularly a blog post about me feeling ill. It’s not even about pushing through when feeling horrible, this is about my Dad. My wife, Rowena, never got to meet my Dad, he had died from cancer, around six months before I first met her. Yet from the descriptions she’s heard from my friends and family, and from me, she strongly believes I’m very much like my Dad. I have the same (annoying) habit, of my mind linking what someone’s said to a song, and belting it out off and on…key. I tend to prefer my own company, or the company of those close to me rather than a large group. And most importantly, at least, the thing that hit my mind this morning, was that my Dad absolutely refused to be ill.
I remember being petrified, of him taking sick days off work. I remember being about 13 or 14, and coming home from school one day. It was a Monday, and I knew Dad hadn’t gone into work, because, well I can only guess my Mum had outright forbidden him to go to work, probably with threats, as that’s probably the only way she would have kept him at home. Mum had been out all day, and so I returned home, and as usual walked upstairs to my room, intending to throw my school-bag to the floor, and chill out for a bit. I opened my bedroom door, and there was my Father, in my room, with graph paper, pencils, tape measures, and a spirit level.
He turned and looked at me, and his expression was the same expression I turn on my wife, when she gets home, and asks “What did you have for lunch?”
“Lunch? It can’t be lunch time,” I reply, “I’ve only just sat down to work, and anyway what are you doing back from work…so…early…” As the realisation sets in that I’ve spent the whole day writing and forgotten little things like food, drink and going to the toilet. My Dad looked at me, as if he couldn’t comprehend what I was doing there, or even who I was. I was tempted to prompt him, “Kieran…your son.” but thought that was probably pushing it.
After his initial confusion wore off, he told me that he had been signed off for the week, so he was going to redesign my bedroom. Now, some would think I should have used the word redecorate instead of redesign, and if you’re one of those people you obviously didn’t know my Dad. By the end of that week, I had full fitted wardrobes, where there had been no wardrobes, a full room length desk, with cupboards, and shelving for books, as well as a computer slot, and sliding keyboard/mouse tray. I even think it went as far as new carpets and curtains, but that could be my memory acting up. This was someone that was too ill to go into work, that would have had to have been forced to the doctor’s surgery for a sick-note, and here he was redesigning my bedroom.
The worst thing was…I wasn’t surprised. My Dad being ill was the scariest thing to happen to our house, because it seemed that every time it happened, another room was ripped apart and rebuilt from the ground upwards. Whether it was my room, my parent’s room, the living room, or the downstairs bedroom that became the train track to end all train tracks.
When my Dad died, as part of the process, Mum wanted to change a lot of the rooms. Every room bore his mark, pretty much every piece of furniture that could have been, had been built by him. One of the many ways I haven’t taken after my Dad, is in DIY, I’m useless at it, he was not…not by a long shot. The way he’d built things was…unique, they were never meant to be destructed. So long afternoons, my Mum and I, sat in rooms, surrounded by his handiwork, trying desperately to work out how he’d built the bloody thing, and if there was any way to unbuild it without picking up a sledgehammer, and starting to hit things. Incidentally it’ll surprise no one that my solution was to start hitting things with something heavy, but my Mum wouldn’t let me try…something about being worried, about the structure of the building, in case my Dad had really built it well.
He would have been 70 today…and probably still would have been building indestructible furniture…I miss you Dad.