Today, the 9th May 2016, marks 53 years since my dad Mark was born in Manchester. Sadly, he’s not here to celebrate. He passed away on the 11th of December last year – 6 months to the day after being diagnosed with oral cancer (of the tongue, tonsils, pallet and throat) and given 6 months to live. He was always a perfectionist and I’m sure he’d have loved to know he got his prognosis spot on.
Dad was a very unique kind of guy. He had an incredibly eclectic music taste – he’s left behind a hefty collection of vinyl and CDs of artists I’ve never heard of. He was also into Formula 1, American sports, Stock Car racing and Doctor Who (he was briefly into Japanese and Korean horror films too but we’ll just call that a phase).
He was also very humble in his achievements and in general – he was never one to draw attention to himself or cry about his own illness (all 19 years of it) and would always lend an ear or a hand to whoever needed it, for however long. I probably wouldn’t have Maths and Science GCSEs today had it not been for years of his patience as we ploughed through my homework! He would also accept and embrace any new challenges, whether that be in redundancy, family related or his own health. I’m a very optimistic person and I’d like to think I learned that from him.
I miss him every day. On Wednesday it’ll have been five months since he died and while it’s getting easier to deal with as time goes on it’s never going to stop hurting. I miss our secret handshake and I miss him calling me ‘little Ems’. I miss his quirky Facebook statuses and his reassuring texts of good luck whenever I’m trying something new. I miss the way he used to torment the cat – she’s softened in old age and that’s not how things were supposed to go.
There’s even a cancer-shaped emptiness at home that I’d become so used that I shouldn’t miss, but they became Dad so I do. I miss the whirr of his feeding tube that pumped calories into his stomach (he sometimes syringed cups of tea down there too because he missed it so much, which I still think is genius). I miss the copious boxes and tubs of drugs that covered every surface in our house – I wish I was joking about that, but they were literally everywhere. I miss him always being around the house, whether that be watching The Big Bang Theory on the settee or hunched over his PC scouring eBay for records.
He’s at peace now, exactly where he wanted to be – he told us so enough times – but I just miss him. I miss him being here.
Happy Birthday, Dad. I’m thinking of you always.