Some people walk around talking to themselves, the world at large, or anyone who might listen. Others of us blog. I often use this space to work out what I am thinking by writing out my thoughts – as Laurel Richardson says, writing can itself be a method of enquiry. Other times I write out the words that have been occupying my thoughts because they keep repeating themselves to me until I allow them to trickle out into the world. But for the last month I have found myself with sort of writer’s block – whenever I sit down to write, I find I cannot. It seems that my mind will not allow me the space to write until I have said this.
My father died on December 2nd, 2022. On January 3rd, 2023 we go through the final rites of passage. I feel very lucky that I had time near the end to sit by his bed and tell him how much he meant to me, and how much I will miss him. But this end was a long time coming – vascular dementia is a cruel disease that takes people away a little bit at a time.
Father was always a talker – we could, and did, spend many hours talking about philosophy. He loved talking about the books I was reading for my studies, and bought many of them for himself. When I was away I’d ring him on a Sunday at 10pm and we’d talk for an hour, hang up and he would ring me back so we could talk for another hour. But as his dementia progressed he stopped having anything to say, and he would hand the phone over to mother instead. Gradually, I realised, dad was slipping away.
And then he broke his hip, and never walked again. Instead of coming home, he moved to a care home. Then lockdown happened, and … he kept slipping gradually away.
The picture at the top of this post is of father giving a speech at my wedding – you can see from my face that he has just told some sort of dad joke. This is how I remember him – proud of his family and happy to tell the world how proud he was.
Rest in Peace, dad. I miss you.