He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.

February 10th means a lot of things to different people. As a history graduate, I tend to think in terms of historic periods. For those who studied the Middle Ages, February 10th 1098 is when the Crusaders took Antioch. Military historians will tell you February 10th 1916 is when Conscription began in Britain. February 10th 1964 is the day Dylan released the Times they are a-Changing. But for me, 10th February will always be the day my Dad died. It was one year ago today. He passed away peacefully in the brilliant Marie Curie Hospice surrounded by family and friends. He had fought cancer for 8 months. If he was a politician, celebrity, business leader, literary, musical, or artistic giant, then he would have got an obituary in the broadsheets. But he was none of those things. He was just an ordinary working class hero, like millions of others.

It’s said that the loss of a parent is one of life’s most traumatic events. I know the devastating truth of that statement. In time, the pain starts fading, replaced by happy memories that soothe the soul. I’m happy to be able to say my dad and I had a simple and loving relationship. He was a remarkably good man; he was a person of devotion and integrity, a man who understood a hard day’s work. He spent 30 years of his working life with British Gas, doing very physical work outdoors in all weathers. But his core accomplishment was family and, as his eldest child, I was a lucky beneficiary. My dad poured vast amounts of love and energy into me during my most formative years. I can measure his life in the warehouse of memories he created for me.

One thing I often think about from my childhood is Dad’s sandpaper-rough hands, made rugged from hard work. My earliest memory of him was him taking my hand in his, as he led me to meet my new-born brother, and then immediately bribing me with a Mr Men jigsaw to stop the onset of a tantrum. From those earliest days, he took my hand in his and we discovered the world together. As my dad neared death, I put my hand in his one final time. I wanted him to know that I was with him on his final journey on Earth, as he had been with me on so many of my first journeys. As he lay dying in a hospice bed, my last words to him echoed a lifetime of his actions to me.”I love you.” The words were spoken just minutes before his death, a beautiful and a complete ending to a great relationship. The loss of my dad, whilst painful, has been strangely reaffirming because it has made me ever more aware of what a wonderful man he was. As I think about him today, I realise the legacy he left me – a curiosity about life, a hunger for knowledge, a passion for social justice, an example of a life whose riches owe little to money, a sense that anything is possible if you work hard, a model of what a father should be. Dad will always remain to me the man I hope someday to become. His was a life worth emulating: a life of great love and generosity, a life of care to others, a life of simple joys.

If I could see my dad one more time, I would tell him that I love him. I’d thank the man who means so much to me. Who is greatly responsible for who I am, and who I am becoming. Thank him for having the courage to do what was necessary to keep me out of trouble. For making me do the right thing. For helping me build my character, even when it made me angry. I’d thank him for pushing me to do my best, even when he just wanted to love me. I’d thank him for being my protector. For leading me through stormy times to safety. For making me believe that everything would be all right and for making it so. I’d thank my dad for quietly making a living to provide for those he loved most. For giving me food, clothing, shelter, and the other material things that really matter. For unselfishly investing time and money in me that he could have spent on himself. Thank him for being my playmate and my friend. Thank him for being my secure foundation, my rock, for holding on tight to me … until it was time to let go. I’d thank the man I look up to, my role model, my hero, my dad.

Bob Carr
5th January 1947 – 10th February 2009

About these ads

13 responses to “He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.

  1. Pingback: Happy Fathers Day 2012 | robcarr.org·

  2. Pingback: Happy Fathers Day 2012 | robcarr.org·

  3. Pingback: Rolling out the greatest hits « Rob Carr – A Novocastrian Abroad·

  4. Beautifully written and just how anyone should be loved by and show love for a parent. I feel the same love for both my parents and making sure they know that is very important to me. Happy for you that you also have that.

  5. Hello Rob. First time visitor. I was too late to talk (or be with) with my Dad, as you movingly describe, because my Dad died very suddenly. I can see that you treasure those memories. I will remember your words as they are a loving and moving tribute to a life well lived in nurturing those qualities in his loving son. Thank you and well said. R.I.P. to both our Dads.

  6. Dear Rob…this is the most beautiful piece of writing and I was so moved by it. I too held my mothers hand as she died and I know so much of waht you felt and continue to feel. How lucky you were to have such a wonderful parent….'when love touches our hearts, she never leaves…but stays as a treasure for all time'.Katherine x

  7. Hello, just read this post following a link by Sarah Brown on twitter. I really like the way you write and I especially like your attitude to life – very refreshing in an often disappointingly 'show-off' world. I love this post especially – such a special tribute to a lovely man. I think I'll be interested in reading your thought re politics… Keep up the great work.Best wishes, Gabrielle

  8. Your blog was beautiful Rob. Your father sounds like an amazing man and you should know his spirit lives through you. You have such a good soul and have so many talents, passion, and such a bright future. I'm sure you make your dad proud each and every day. If you need anything I'm here. xxx

  9. Hello – I found this a beautiful moving tribute to your Dad, it soothes my soul just to read that his love for you was so transformative, thank you for writing it.

  10. Hi Lucy. Firstly thank you for reading my blog. I'm glad you've been reading regularly. Secondly, thank you for choosing this special post for your first comment. Please do keep commenting on future posts. It's great to get comments. Rob

  11. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.Lucyhttp://toddlergirls.net

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s