Today my Mam passed away. Today is also my birthday. I don’t want to talk about either just now. Instead let me take you back to yesterday…
As I sat eating my dippy egg and soldiers that my dad had woke me up with this morning (as he had done so many times in the past) I smiled and thought how proud I am to call Kenny Harper my dad.
Whilst my mam has never sat down long enough to warm a seat, my dad has shown me the importance and pleasure in being still and calm. My mam would hurtle through each day absorbing other people’s burdens as she went, whilst my dad could cut through stress like a hot knife through butter. My mam would go at the pace she assumed other people needed her to, whilst my dad would take everything in his stride and take everyone along with him.
On the face of it, my mam and dad would appear completely incompatible, but are actually unbelievably complimentary. They have been married for 35 years and still undeniably love every aspect of one another. Me and my sister have been lucky to have this at the head of our family; it’s shaped who I am as a person and my own aspirations for relationships and for home. But Dad has given me so much more than I have ever expressed and ever fully appreciated. I guess it’s the way with illnesses – I’ve given my undivided attention to my mam and somewhat sidelined my dad. With everything that I have feared the alien would steal from me, I haven’t concentrated on all the wonderful things I still have in Captain Kenny. So now is the time; for me to understand everything I’ve gained from him and for him to remember what a brilliant job he is still doing (following my mam’s instructions he is now using a tablet, so I know he will read this blog).
He taught me:
- When to fight and when to walk away – In his own words: ‘Look at the bottom of your payslip every month. Does it say anywhere that you get paid to worry? No, so I don’t’
- To not look over seemingly small dreams – even when the bad news was delivered, my dad was talking about how lucky we’d been to have had the good life we’ve had together as a family, and that’s all he really wanted.
- To love with patience and genoursity – nobody could keep up with my Mam, not even herself; she’d run herself ragged and tie herself in knots with a million and one commitments, but my dad would just sigh, mutter under his breath and then help her carry on, because it made her happy and therefore made him happy.
- Never try and change anyone – the chaotic whirlwind that was Lorraine Harper is enough to drive anyone up the wall, but that made her one of a kind and he knew that.
- Never try and please everyone – you can’t, so you shouldn’t. Make sure yo do whatever it is you need to do. Simple.
- To love unconditionally – right now he is watching over my Mam with me as she sleeps, even though he is utterly exhausted. Over these past (very hard) 4 months he has been with my mam on every difficult step and never once faltered.
- To be kind – if you want it and he can do it; its not a problem. Most of the time you don’t even have to ask ( I refer back to my current egg and soldier breakfast!)
- Keep laughing – even in the darkest moments he has managed to find a spark of humour to make me smile.
But above all of these, or maybe the sum of all of these parts, my dad has taught me what it means to be a man; someone I have always looked up to and modelled myself on. Last night I wrote about losing my life map – my Mam has given me so many things that I will take with me forever, but what I forgot was I’ve always had a second map to hand; a very different one, but still a map that will get me to the same place. My dad.