As Father’s Day approaches I naturally start to thinking about my own dad. When I was 25 I lost him, when he lost his two year battle with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). This horrific disease affects up to 5,000 people in the UK at any one time, killing more than half within 2 years of diagnosis, attacking the nerves, muscles and motor skills leaving sufferers unable to walk, talk, eat and breathe. There is no cure. My Dad’s case affected his upper body first, which meant within 5 months of diagnosis he had lost his speech and in less than a year was unable to eat. Without his communication set, it rendered him to frantically handwriting notes telling us what he was doing, wanted and thought, leaving a trail of scrap papers around the house. He was always a people person, running a customer facing business on Jersey for almost 30 years and loved to chat away to people, so as you can imagine this was a hard transition. However even as he scribbled away he didn’t lose his stubborn and opinionated side, always letting you know if he wasn’t happy or interject when there was something he didn’t agree with. So for the last eleven years he has been absent from my life and I think back to the moments where he would not be backwards in coming forwards, telling me what he thought, I wonder what he would make of his little girl’s adventures.
I met the love of my life two months after my dad died, so he never met my future husband. Before he died I was fairly lost, I had been back in Jersey about 2 years and really didn’t know what I was doing with my life, let’s face it what 24 year old really has a life plan. So when Hubby and I started our married life in Jersey living in a tiny flat, as fate would have it on the same street as my dad’s first flat 38 years previous, we had no intentions of leaving our island haven. As time went on and the claustropbic island life kicked in, the realisation that we couldn’t move forward in terms of affording a home (the Jersey property prices are crazy for first time buyers to reach) and career opportunities limited, we craved something different.
You may recall in my previous posts, that our move to Prague didn’t go down too well initially. People couldn’t see why this home bird wanted to flee island life and this was so out of character to want to try new things and venture off into the unknown. I think dad would have been the first to question my motives but at the same time I think would have quite liked the fact that I was doing something different. Our first year in Prague was filled with visitors and all my family came to see for themselves what my new euro life was all about and whether the happy FaceTime me was the real deal. My uncle was probably the hardest nut to crack, he is fiercely protective over me and he and I have a special relationship, as I think we both remind each other of the man we miss. So when he came and explored the city with us one December weekend, taking in all the sights and seeing us in our new environment he gave us his nod of approval. I know that my dad would have loved Prague, he would have loved the romantic architecture, the old bohemian atmosphere, long scenic walks and the cheap beer! I could see him just hopping on a flight whenever a cheap deal came up and spending the weekend strolling around with his travel paints in hand, sketching and painting impromptu scenes whenever the mood struck.
Two weeks into our Kuwait landing I as nominated in the Ice Bucket challenge for MND (or ALS in America) and of course I took up the dare. So from my dodgy bathroom in our temporary accommodation, I filled numerous saucepans, no bucket was available in our limited supplies, and filled them with ice and water. Firstly it was August in the desert and 50 degrees, so the ice didn’t want to stay ice! Many attempts later Hubby was ready to film my madness and I took one for my Dad. Now if he had been here to witness this, he would have
been first in line to throw the water over my head
thought it was hilarious that the whole family were taking part in this antic in his memory
said Girl, what the hell are you doing in Kuwait!?
He of all people would have been fairly nervous about me moving out here, he would have first asked if it was safe and secondly how it was for non Muslims in a Muslim country. He then would have called everyone, especially his brother, to seek their opinion or rather listen to his. Knowing how interested, if not a little scared he would have been about his little girl being so far away, I would like to think he would have ventured over here at least once, not sure he would have persuaded my heat avoiding mum to go along, but alone or not he would have. I think he would have been facinated by the stark difference to anywhere else we had travelled as kids and to Jersey. He would have loved how his paintings adorn the walls of our new apartment and that even far away I have reminders of my little island everywhere. Most of all, I would like to think he would be proud of how I have settled completely into my new life, made some great friends and I am far from the lost 20 something he last saw. It would surprise him that I was living and loving this expat life, least because out of his three daughters I was the last on the list you would have bet to live away from Jersey, but I think secretly he would love that I was seeing the world and could relay countless wonders of places far from his reach at my age.
What would I say back to him right now?
Well dad, I think you had the adventurer in you too. At 21 you got on a boat with a suitcase and headed to Jersey, no plans, nowhere to stay, no job but you threw caution to the wind and you went towards a new life. First year you were married, you hired a Winnebago and drove across America, no plan, only to end up in Vegas with your new bride. You may have settled into your life raising us and being the best Dad, but you never stopped showing us all Jersey had to offer, secret adventures to the woods, cycle rides for hours, taking us for an island drive allowing us to just shout left or right, with no idea where we would end up. You were an adventurer and I’m glad it rubbed off on me. I will send you spiritual postcards from all my travels, simply saying wish you were here.