Dear all… an introductory note. This post I’m about to make has ended up much longer than I had expected. 9 pages on Word to be exact so I’ll probably have to post it various sections. I am not looking for sympathy, I just want to share my feelings in this difficult time for me about my dad. He was only 73, too young, but had a good life. The Internet arrived a little late for my dad, but we listened to me with great interest about all I read on A.net, so in my eyes he was an avid a.netter, even though he never really grasped what a forum was (or the internet). If he had been in better health or a little younger, I’m sure he would have used a.net and been a very respected user. All I ask you is to think of him.
April 24th was the most difficult and saddest day in my life so far. A fear I had had for a number of years finally happened. I have been thinking about posting here on a.net, but was not sure. By pure coincidence I was contacted by an a.netter who suspected who I was (and we had never met before, I will explain that later on). He had recently gone through a similar situation, and when I mentioned about posting on a.net he said he had had the same dilemma recently, had eventually posted and was thankful he had done so. It has taken me a couple of weeks to build up the courage to write this post, as I needed to feel in a state of mind to do so, and to do my best to write a post that dad deserves.
I’m sure many of you can already guess. My dear father passed away on April 24th. I’d like to talk a little bit about the recent background and the event of that very difficult week.
On February 21st 2000 my father collapsed at mass (he was half Irish half Italian, so catholic as you can imagine). He was rushed to hospital and we had no idea what was wrong. I was living at the time in Madrid, was phoned, and managed to get a flight early the following morning from Madrid to Dublin via Frankfurt with Lufthansa (which turned out to be an event in itself I have frequently referred to on a.net… an engine fire shortly after take-off from Frankfurt). My dad was in hospital for about 1 month and he was diagnosed with a relatively rare illness called chronic hypoxemia. Basically, hypoxemia is a low saturation level of oxygen in one’s blood (people often become hypoxic after an operation or at very high altitudes), and from what I understand it is called “chronic hypoxemia” when there is no clear reason for the situation. My dad was quite a miracle case, as what are called his sats (oxygen saturation levels) usually only around 80 to 90%. The only treatment was close medical attention and the use of oxygen, which would usually push his sats up to around 90% and a little above. The first few years didn’t cause to too many changes in his life, yes he had to live a more relaxed life, and had to spend some hours per day on oxygen. By the time I got married in Spain he was on oxygen for most of the day, I remember organising the oxygen machine for the reception, but he was still in good form. He continued to travel, always with oxygen on the a/c, and I must say the airlines he used (EI, BA and AF) were always wonderful in dealing with his condition.
November 2002 saw his last visit to me shortly after I had moved to Toulouse. In 2003 we had bought our first home here in Toulouse, which dad so much wanted to see, but that was never possible. By 2003, his life was getting a bit more difficult, and really by 2004 he was restricted to bed and advised to be on oxygen as close to 24 hours per day as possible. I frequently travelled to Dublin to visit him. At this stage, reality was hitting in, but we grasped onto hope. All the doctors who dealt with my dad were always amazed by his low sats and the fact that he survived. Medically he shouldn’t have been alive, but he was, so obviously he had had this condition for a long time and his system had adapted to it. Nevertheless, we knew the situation was critical, and by 2004 I had many moments when tears would come to my eyes thinking of him. Why was I living abroad and not with him? I left home and my country at 18, hadn’t I lost a lot of precious time with him? This went through my head frequently, but I knew and know he was always proud of the decisions I had taken and the way my life was turning out… (thanks to my eldest sister he said all this to me yesterday, and dad had also said it to me). Each time I went to Dublin from 2004, saying goodbye was heart-breaking, as I always thought “is this the final good-bye”? In October 2004 on a visit to one of his specialists, the doctor brought up the dreaded subject and asked him if he wanted to talk about life expectancy. Dad had been afraid to ask, but wanted to know. The doctor estimated 3 months… the end was near. Dad was terrified that he would die gasping for air, he asked the doctor and the doctor said “No, don’t worry, it won’t be like that”. Did he simply say that so as not to make my father suffer further? Luckily, the doctor was right. That day was a Saturday and I was visiting an historic town close to Toulouse. My mother rang me and told me. I was filled with a sort of rage caused by sadness. I remember hitting the wall of a building I was beside and actually having a sore hand for about a week!
I spent Christmas 2004 in Dublin. He was definitely not in good form. I wanted him to go to the doctor, but he didn’t. Three days after my return to Toulouse, while playing golf with a good old friend from Ireland who was visiting, the first dreaded call came from my eldest sister. “Dad’s in hospital… don’t panic, but the doctor’s only give him 10 days”. The following morning I was back in Dublin. Dad was in a horrible ward in a pretty horrible hospital in our local town. He was in a special ward with 24 hour surveillance and 8 beds with terminally ill people, generally in their last days. The first day or so he was a bit out of it, didn’t remember Christmas at all. He needed to be helped with everything. High levels of oxygen were being pumped into him and another new machine was being used (a mask that blows air in to open up his airways to ensure the oxygen was reaching his lungs). Slowly, while on the high levels of oxygen, his sats went up into the mid 90’s, the highest levels since he was sick. The doctors didn’t really know what to say. Each doctor had a different opinion. 10 days later they started trying to bring him down to do some exercise. They’d try to lower the oxygen, but always his sats fell… but with the oxygen he was looking well. (Here I must pay credit in particular to the large population of Philippine nursing staff in Dublin, they were so kind, gentle, loving and professional… of course he had a few Irish nurses, who were all great, doted over my father and used their typical humorous Irish charm to boost his spirits). Three weeks passed. What do I do? My wife, who had already visited, was obviously alone in Toulouse. So long away was not good for my work. I spent a few days of trying to talk to the main specialist in charge of my father in that hospital, which was difficult. Eventually one evening I organised to meet a young Irish doctor. He more or less said to me “look, you’re being great taking care of your dad, but we need to take some decisions, and you can’t stay here indefinitely, it’s not fair on your own family (wife). One option was to send him to a hospice, but we knew dad did not want that, nor did we. So he said, you have to go home to your family. Now you know if your dad goes back home his oxygen machine can only be at level 5, compared to the level 15 we are using in the hospital”. So he suggested we just drop his oxygen level on the machine from 15 to 5 that night and monitor him. This could be risky, but what other options are there? I thought, “My God, he wants an answer NOW and from ME about the fate of my father”. I quickly rang my eldest sister who I’m very close to, then my mum, and we decided to try it. The doctor said, you speak to your dad first, then I’ll join you and answer any questions he had. He said we needed to tell him there was an inherent risk, but really no other options, but not to frighten him too much, there’s no point in doing that to him. I went out to the street to get some fresh air and make sure my eyes were dry. Then up to dad. Today I can’t remember how I told him all this, but we did it, and while his sats dropped, he was ok. Next afternoon doctor called and said “I think we can let your dad go home”. Went to the hospital and my dad was so happy! I could cry remembering the joy on his face that day. So some training with a head nurse on how to care from him, he would need this additional new machine at home to keep his airways open. They put it on me, wow, it was a terrible impression having so much air blown into you with such force. That evening we brought dad home. It was a Friday. On Sunday I returned to Toulouse, and more or less travelled to Dublin once every month.
Dad was so-so. At times he was hopeful, even hopeful that he’d get over to Toulouse to see his youngest son’s home (me), other days he knew this was nothing else but a dream. As time passed, he had moments of weakness, started having frequent falls when he tried to go to the bathroom. Spent the rest of time in bed. Needed to be bathed by my mum or other members of the family.
A new joy seemed to give him a new goal. In May 2005 his youngest son, me, found out that his wife was expecting a child. Dad already had 4 grandchildren, but the idea of a grand child from me, as the youngest, was special, and everyone in my family admits this. My wife’s pregnancy really boosted his spirits and he seemed much better through the pregnancy. It did develop a terrible fear in me though “I need dad to survive to meet my child”.
In late January of this year my wife gave birth to our first child, a wonderful little boy. Dad was so happy. Clearly he was getting more tired, but he was so happy… now the next goal, meeting my son. A new goal for him, and a new goal for me but I feared he’d give up once he met had met my son, so what do I do, hurry up and get over to Ireland so he can meet my son in case anything happens to dad, or wait and wait and try and make this goal for dad last longer, and longer, so I could have more telephone calls with him. We loved our telephone calls… spoke everyday, often twice (in the morning when he was well awake, and I’d share all I had seen of interest on a.net, tell him about seeing the 380 over flying my garden… oh how I loved those calls, and how I miss them today.
We baptised our child in early March, only part of my family could come (one sister and some of my nephews and nieces). A special prayer was said for dad and mum who couldn’t be there to share that special day for us. Next we had to go to Spain, as my wife is Spanish, and she needed a short period of rest and support from her mum. There yet another small religious celebration for our son with the priest who married us, a close friend and then a festive Spanish celebration. Suddenly my mother-in-law stands up during the mass, to read something she had written. She starts to cry… why? The first half of her letter is about my son’s wonderful Irish grandfather… Everyone starts shedding a tear.
Thankfully in early April we got to Dublin. My son met dad, dad fell instantly in love with his new grandson… I have photos of my son in my dad’s arms in his bed. Today they heartbreak me, I look at dad and see a distance in his eyes I had not noticed before (where was he? Thinking that he had finally reached his final goal?) and some other photos of dad just staring at my son, his eyes filled with love and pride.
The afternoon we left Dublin was the hardest ever. I think that without really realising, I knew this was very possibly the last time I’d see dad in good form. I spent half an hour trying to get to his bedroom to say “see you soon Dad”, with my nephew helping me. The tears were just flowing. I eventually managed to look ok, went in hugged dad told him I’d love him and we’d be back soon. As I left him to go to my mum, the tears just burst out like never before… and dad then said to my eldest sister later “did you see how Peter cried saying goodbye to mum; great to see how much he loves her”. My sister didn’t know what to say, she thought “but don’t you realise he’s crying over you?”. I’m sure he knew, dad knew everything that went through my head without me uttering a single word. But that was just how he wanted to think it.
So back to Toulouse, only 2 weeks later we were heading down (my wife, son, me and my in-laws who were joining us for the first week) to an apartment near Málaga were I had spent so many happy holidays with my parents as a child. He was the king of the resort. “El caballero irlandés” (the Irish Gentleman) as he was and is known by the locals. Funny how things work out. This whole journey started out badly. Supposed to fly out from Toulouse to Madrid on Thursday. We arrive at airport, an earlier Iberia flight had broken down that morning in Toulouse. Our flight was fine, but by the time we got to check-in some two hours after arriving, our flight was booked out with the pax from the previous flight. Now we had to wait for the other plane to be fixed. Won’t go into whole story, but in the end, after being lied to (told we were given boarding passes for our flight after two pax offered us their seats as we had an infant, turned out this was untrue). I demanded to be let leave the airport some hours later as I couldn’t just wait till who knows what time with a 3 month baby. They agreed and gave us tickets for the following morning. Was this a first sign that I should be flying north to Dublin instead of south to Spain? Got to Spain on Friday, told dad wasn’t great but dad said “I’m fine Peter, you continue with your holiday, the 3 of you deserve it”. What do I do? “I say, well if you’re hospitalised, I’ll be straight over”. “Don’t worry, I know” he responds. I start the car journey to Málaga feeling awful. The weather was awful and depressing for the time of year. On Saturday GP visits dad, ups some of his medication and suggests a few days in hospital to boost up his oxygen… dad says no. That night I phoned dad and all he wanted to know was how my family was and how everyone down there in the place we used to go to together near Málaga were… “Fine dad, everyone asking for you, as usual”, I said. On Sunday I watch the Leinster-Munster match (funny the previous match I had watched was a couple of weeks before in Dublin with dad when Leinster beat Toulouse). That afternoon I phoned dad. He spoke a bit about the match, but he was tired… so my last words ever to dad were “Don’t worry dad, we can talk this evening. Talk to you later dad, I love you”. That evening we went to Marbella to mass. I couldn’t go to mass as I had work and needed to go to an internet café. Had a nice dinner and got back to the apartment. My sister rang, “dad’s not great, Peter, he’s decided to go into hospital, so I’ll talk to the GP first thing in the morning before her surgery starts, and I think you should start thinking about getting a flight over sometime next week, no urgency, but it would probably be a good idea to come over”. I said “of course”. My poor sister, did she know deep down and want to tell me “get straight over”… difficult for anyone to say. Went back to the apartment, so my in-laws and burst out crying. Explained the situation, “ok, we’ll all go back to their house tomorrow, quite close to Madrid, and then I can head up to Madrid to get a flight on Tuesday to Dublin”. That night I had a bad feeling. I couldn’t go to bed. I sat out on the patio looking at the Mediterranean lit up by the frequent lightening and watched the heavy rain. Funny, dad used to love watching storms here at night. We’d sit out together for ours, often without talking, just happy to be together. My wife joined me. I was angry… questioning my faith “God, if you exist why are you doing this to such a good man, he’s too young?”. Went to bed half expecting my mobile to ring all night. Got up early, needed to walk, but everywhere I went in that place was just filled with happy memories of the past when I used to go for a stroll with dad… we loved strolling around together. My sister phoned, she had spoken to the GP, and the GP had said she’d come up later that morning, but was in second thoughts about putting him into hospital now “too many infections in hospital, is there any point now?” She knew dad didn’t want to die in hospital. I meet somebody I know and she invites me to a coffee. 30 minutes later my sister rings “Peter, we can’t wake dad up, I’ve tried, but he won’t wake up, but he’s breathing”. Shortly after confirmation arrived, doctor is there and he’d entered a coma during the night.
A day of pure anxiety lay ahead of me. I was to feel like a prisoner in Spain. Started phoning the airlines… no availability to Dublin. People I know in Madrid, family in Dublin and a travel agent I know in Dublin all started to look for a seat for me. Can you believe it? In today, the age of easy air travel, not a single seat available from anywhere in Spain to Dublin? Sure, I could get to Paris or who knows where in Europe and connect, and there were even difficulties in some of the connections. But that all meant arriving late that night. I wanted something quick and as direct as possible. I should have taken one of those options. So direct from Spain, the first availability was Tuesday from Seville with Aer Lingus. By 1pm, decision taken (mainly by my mother-in-law), into the cars and I’d head straight to Madrid airport (600 km away) and get a seat somehow there. But I need to get home. Doing that means running the risk of not travelling until tomorrow. But now it was too late to get any of the other options I had had. Finally a positive phone call from my brother-in-law in Dublin. Aer Lingus had a seat for me at 11:10pm direct from Málaga to Dublin. OK I’ll take that. Now to spend the afternoon by myself, as my wife, child and in-laws headed back to their home to look for flights for themselves. Went to the local Irish bar, great support and organised a taxi for me. Must eat something as I haven’t eaten all day. Went to a restaurant we know well, spent many happy nights there with dad… the owners had even come to my wedding. “I don’t want anything fancy, just need to eat, can you give me something simple around 6.30pm, very early for dinner in Spain… “No problem Peter”. So back to clear up the apartment. Take a shower. Tidy the bedroom where my dad had spent so many nights. Suddenly get a call from my best friend from school in Ireland who now lives in Spain and works in Gibraltar (and is married to a friend of my wife!)… “Peter, I’m just leaving Gibraltar and coming for you, what time is your flight? I’m not letting you go by yourself to the airport”. What a friend. Had dinner, forcing myself to eat, my eyes constantly filling up thinking of all the nights I had sat at those very tables with dad… My friend arrived and we headed to the airport. Aer Lingus had called me in the meantime to say that they had advised Iberia (their handling agent in Málaga) of my situation, that they had reserved seat 1C for me so I could disembark quickly and that I didn’t have to check in any baggage I had and could bring it all onboard so I didn’t have to wait for it in DUB. What compassion. Got to Málaga ticketless, check-in man was a bit confused; suddenly the woman at the desk next to him looks up and asks me “Are you Mr. X?” Yes, ok, he’s pre-booked and luggage doesn’t need to be checked in… I said shall we weigh it as I have quite a lot… “Don’t worry Mr. X”. Went through security, and the shining Aer Lingus Airbus 320 was already at the gate… relief, “I’m nearly home”. A quick call home, flight is here, they’ve told me we should be landing 15 minutes ahead of schedule”… “Great Peter, we’ll be at the airport for you, dad is the same, we keep telling him you’re on your way”. I hadn’t flown direct between Málaga and Dublin for some 15 years, the last time was with mum and dad, strange. Boarded plane, crew were marvellous. Discretely told me they knew why I was returning and not to hesitate calling them for anything I wanted. A few tears appeared a few minutes later, and suddenly a hostess secretly hands me some tissues. Shortly after take-off I suddenly felt very calm, strange that, as the past few years I have been very nervous during take-off and initial climb. I remember thinking how strange that was. This was some time around 11.30 pm Spanish time (10.30 pm) in Ireland. Unaware that at around 10.30 my father had passed away. Landed in Dublin, I need to get off this plane quickly, need to see dad alive. Do I go to the bathroom and brace myself for what’s ahead? no I need to run out. I exit luggage area to see my brother-in-law, nephew and niece. My niece and nephew’s eyes were red from tears, normal I thought. I came around, my brother-in-law saw me; he put his arms out as I approached and shook his head. “Oh no, I’m too late, no, no, it can’t be, it’s just because of the circumstances”. He comes to me and says something like “I’m so sorry Peter…” Everything else is a blank. I run to the bathroom and cry. I pull myself together, actually quite well which surprised me, and off along the M50 to get home.
We pull up to our house, me thinking of the last times I did this, always happy to run into see dad in bed and see how he was, see that look of joy in his eyes as I walked into the bedroom. My mother was at the hall-door awaiting me. She hugged me. My sisters were there, the younger one looking lost, my eldest sister’s eyed seemed filled with pain and pity for what was awaiting me. “He’s in his bed Peter, do you want do go down?”. Before that sentence was finished I was already in the room. No smile and joy in his eyes looking at me this time. He was lying there as usual, but flat, his head up, looking as handsome as ever, and his eyes closed. I fall to the floor by him, feel his face which was already surprisingly cold. It can’t be! My whole world collapsed around me. It was over! I started to cry, scream possibly, to wail unlike I ever knew I could “I love you so much dad, I love you so much, why are you gone?”…
Spent part of that night with my sisters. Mum went to bed early in another room, distraught. At about 4am we decided we wouldn’t leave him at the funeral home, he’d spend his time at home until his burial. Tried going to bed. Couldn’t stay in bed, needed to be with dad, so went down, sat with him, talked to him, cried, grieved, and finally slept for an hour or so on the floor at the foot of his bed. They were coming around 8am in the morning to bring him to the funeral home to get him ready. I knew in the morning he’d be leaving the house, but he’d be back. Woke at 7, and lay still on the floor for about 20 minutes trying to convince myself I had had a terrible nightmare, but I knew I hadn’t and I knew that once I stood up I’d return to reality. He was so much colder. Down to the kitchen with my eldest sister and brother. Left mum and other sister sleeping. “What do we do when they come from the funeral parlour?”. Maybe they won’t come I’m thinking. This is all just a bad dream. 8am sharp, the black cars arrive. The men were so gentle. We tell them we want him brought home instead “No problem they say”. Spoke over a few details. They suggested we didn’t come down to the room with them, we didn’t, but as they got to the hall door we came out and saw why… dad, covered by a black blanket on a trolley.
That morning was hard. Down to the funeral parlour with my eldest sister (not fair leaving her to organise everything). I couldn’t believe I was sitting in the room of this building I had so often passed and had always shuddered at seeing it and now here I was with a very gentle woman talking about my dad’s funeral. Then up to choose the coffin… All organised, they took care of just about everything and made it all as easy as possible. Then to buy the flowers… there I discover I still have my pyjama top on underneath my shirt… first laugh in a while… or hysteria?
5pm, I was with the doctor getting dad’s death certificate. The poor doctor apologised to me, can you believe it? She felt guilty that she hadn’t been able to keep him alive until I arrived. She thought I was getting in earlier in the evening and not at 1am. She had no choice but to increase the morphine. And she apologises to me? For doing her job? For doing what must have been the best for dad? For ensuring he didn’t start suffering? At times like this, you see just how good human beings can be.
Missed call from my younger sister while I was with doctor to say dad was home (well dad had been brought home in his coffin). Drove home quickly, how was I going to cope but I needed to get in to him quickly… it’s my dad. There he was in his coffin, looking handsome, healthier than the past 3 or 4 years and at peace, an expression of pure peace on his face. All this had a marvellous effect on my faith. The flowers had arrived, sunflowers I wanted, dad’s favourite, and yellow roses (mum and dad had a thing about yellow roses). I only learnt that on that day. Again my feelings came out like last night. Another difficult night ahead. My16 year-old niece (eldest sister’s daughter) phoned us now and then to say she couldn’t sleep, I said to my sister tell her that if she can’t sleep in a while I’ll get her). She phones at 1am “Pete can I come up?” I go and collect her, she’s distraught, I tell her how special my relationship was with dad, and I had always thought it was a unique relationship, but I had realised how close dad was to her, and that they had just as special a relationship, and I was so happy about that. She cried, she smiled, she thanked me. She, a 16 year-old teenager, wanted to sleep on the sofa in the room with dad. I said I’d sleep on the other sofa. It was our last night with dad. Then she shared a letter she had been writing to her Nono (that’s what dad’s grandchildren called him) with me and my eldest sister, her mum. 6 pages so far, beautifully written since Monday when she was taken out of school because her nono was in a coma. Again tears flowed. Her words were magic, filled with youthful love, distress… Much more beautiful words than I can express here. She accepted to let me make a copy for her, her mum and me in the morning as this letter was going into the coffin with Nono. The house fell asleep. My niece cried herself to sleep. Tonight was different to last night. Dad wasn’t in bed… he was in a coffin. I was weak, I couldn’t handle looking at a coffin, so moved onto the floor beside him, but this was worse, I was looking up at a coffin. Nobody was awake to talk to. I couldn’t wake dad as I would have done in such a situation in the past. My weakness gave in, I couldn’t handle it and moved to a bedroom.
The next morning was again sunny, glorious weather in Dublin, just like dad liked. My beautiful wife and son and my wonderful mother-in-law were on an Iberia flight to Dublin that morning. Went to collect them. Got very upset at the airport, thought I was going to pass out. Sat down and ended up beside a nun, who spoke to me and was wonderfully kind. They arrived, flight was slightly delayed. Now to hit Dublin traffic. The removal was at 5pm, we were been collected at 4:15, it was now about 12:30, had to get home quickly to be with dad. Traffic was worse than ever. Got home at 2pm, witnessed the sadness in my wife’s eyes (my father loved her so much, always said she was another daughter to him, and she loved dad). My mother-in-law also though the world of dad, and fell to the floor as she came into the front room to see dad lying the coffin.
The removal went relatively well. Couldn’t believe I was in one of those black funeral limousines… never wanted to be in one. Good turn-out at church. Nice simple service. Was surprised by my calmness. There it hit me. I would never see dad again. I wanted to open the coffin and see him again, take him with me… I kissed the top of the coffin and left the church.
That night was surreal, as much of the past days had been. My wonderful sister-in-law, living in Paris, rang the previous evening to say she had found a flight and was coming over late tonight. So good of her.
The funeral took place the following morning. I had felt a need to do a reading, and I don’t like those sort of things. In the end, I went for it, dad deserved at least that. My 20 year-old nephew, with the same name as his nono, Eugene, did the first reading. So here we are in the church. Can’t believe it, it’s my dad’s funeral. Time to read. Eugene and myself go up to the alter, Eugene who is quite nervous did a fine job reading. Then we sat together at the side of the alter while the singer sang before my reading. I started to shake, sweat, get nervous “now Peter, be strong, for dad!” the music is nice “but will she ever stop singing and let me do my reading?!” Suddenly strong sun light comes in through a window straight down on my nephew and myself, my nephew looked at me and took my hand, he had sensed my growing nerves… was this light a sign? I don’t know, but for me yes it was, dad was there, supporting me. The music stopped, I got up, went to the pulpit and read.
The mass ended and the final song… I couldn’t believe it and burst out crying. “Nella Fantasia”, a song used on a beautiful Aer Lingus ad some 10 or 15 years back showing beautiful images of EI planes and activity at sunrise at DUB. Dad and myself loved that ad. How suitable, how fitting. The tears just flowed. When I told my sister later who had organised the music, she couldn’t believe it.
Now the thing I had most dreaded in my life… the burial and the cemetery. Again the sun was splitting the sky, I’m so happy about that, dad would have loved a day like that. The burial was short, and relatively easy. Back home… slowly over the coming days reality started to sink in, and is still sinking in nearly one month later.
A few words to describe dad. And there aren’t words enough to describe him. Dad was a good man. He was a handsome charming man. Always in the mood for a good joke. A family man who did everything in his power to help all his children. He idolised his wife for the some 52 years they were together. He was a people’s person… many acquaintances, he loved to stop and chat, and everyone loved chatting with him. He was a happy man, shy in his own strange way which wasn’t very apparent. He was never loud or would never stand out, but he did always stand out for being the kind gentleman he was. All we have heard these past weeks has been “What a gentleman your father was”.
I was fortunate in a way. I was born as a bit of a surprise… 12 years after the next youngest in the family. Dad ended up retiring early when I was only 7 so I got to spend a lot of very precious time with him I will cherish for the rest of my life. He introduced me to my passion for aviation. He loved airplanes, and flew from an early age as his mother was Italian. His first flight ever was on an Aer Lingus DC-3 to Rome via Geneva, where he tasted Coca-cola for the first time. Many a Saturday morning we’d go out to Dublin airport, just the two of us, and spot planes… how times have changed in Ireland in such a short time. Back then I remember us waiting and chatting, then suddenly after 10 minutes we’d hear an Aer Lingus 707 or BAC-1-11 approach the runway for take-off… the thrill. Then another 15 minutes without activity until we’d hear the roar of an EI 747 or a Hispania Caravelle on finals. Then into the terminal, usually deserted unlike DUB today, and have an Irish breakfast.
I suppose I knew the end was definitely coming near, as on my last visit to Dublin in early April with my son I told him one day how much I loved him (we often told each other, but this was deeper), that he was my best friend, and the best dad around and I thanked him… and told him I would love to bring up my little son with as much love as he brought me up.
Now life continues. I still miss calling him. I have lost a bit of interest in many things, including aviation, as I no longer have dad to call and chat to about these things. But I am strong, must be, that’s what he wants. I have a life ahead of me, a wonderful wife to love and a beautiful son to care for. Not forgetting my mother, sisters, brothers, nephews and nieces… But I do have an aim: To try my hardest (and I’ll have to try very hard) to do half as good a job as dad did bringing me up with my own son and any future children. I have the perfect role model, and I will guide myself on all those memories, and ensure my son and any other children hear about their Nono, and learn to love him as all his family do today. It tears my heart apart to think my little son will only hear of nono and never know him in person… he is going to miss out on something very special.
Thank you to two a. netters. One who contacted me a few days later, we were on each other’s RR users list but didn’t know each other, asking me if I had a sister called X living in X. Slightly freaked out I responded yes, why? He replied sending his condolences for my father. Turns out he is a very close friend of my sister’s best friend who had been talking about me and he put 2 and 2 together and got the right answer. He encouraged me to post this. He had also lost somebody very dear to him exactly 2 weeks before, the woman who had brought him up since he was very young and he posted a thread about his loss here.
Also to another member who quickly contacted me when he heard I had lost me father which I mentioned in passing on some thread.
Thank you for reading my long tribute to my dad. I now feel sick, I have cried more than I have in a couple of weeks, maybe I needed to get this on paper and cry some more
Please say a prayer (or whatever your beliefs are) for my dear dear father, Eugene. May he be resting in peace.
Dad, I’ve written this for you on that place on the internet I told you about so much. I love you and always will. I will never forget you and hope more than ever that you are watching down on me, that you are proud and that I will lead a long and full life to make you proud, and then meet you again when my time on earth ends. Dad, you know we all love you…