Saying Goodbye to My Dad

Yesterday I found out that my dad passed away. It was in some ways sudden and unexpected, and in other way, not sudden at all. He had been in and out of hospital all year for various reasons, so I knew he wasn’t doing well. But still…

I had planned to visit. For various reasons I won’t go into, that plan never happened. Had I bought the tickets that I got so close to buying, I would have found myself arriving too late, alone, without my husband, unimaginably lost.

For very real practical reasons, I can’t go back to England, and so I find myself here, in Seattle, trying to mourn the loss of my daddy, from very far away. I feel cut off. At sea. It’s not supposed to be this way.

I’ve taken more than my fair share of blame for not being there. I imagine quite a few in my family think I am selfish. Being far away, I don’t have to deal with his death. But I do. Just because I’m not there, doesn’t mean I don’t feel it. Instead, I have to figure out how to say goodbye to him in my own way. I don’t have the mass of family to share memories with. In a cowardly way, I am grateful. The memories I have of my father are with him still mostly strong, still getting around. Not helpless. Not sick. I don’t think he resented me not being there. I hope not, anyway, because it had nothing to do with him.

He was a complicated person and not an easy man to get along with. Having said that, I think I probably had a better relationship with him than most, although that was more to do with being the youngest and able to get away with a lot. He was like the dad in Big Fish, always telling tall tales like he invented minute rice or was in the Olympics. I never knew what was true because he was very intelligent and able to spin a good yarn. Because of this, I never felt like I knew him very well. I am grateful to learn that the last tale he told me, after Jory passed away, was actually a true tale from his childhood, having to leave his dog and grandmother behind when he and his mother fled India to Singapore. It means a lot to me to know it was true because it also means he recognized and respected my grief.

He always asked about Jo, and later Luna and Sobbolina. Not sure why he thought her name was Sobbolina. Maybe it’s the funny way I write my “G’s”.

As a child we were close. I was the youngest, and always called him daddy. I remember him taking me out for my 8th birthday and buying me a pink elephant. He also got me a heart shaped ring, which I lost just a few days later. He got me another one, which we had to have cut off, a few years later, which we replaced with the one I am currently wearing on my finger.

He snored loudly. Ridiculously so. One time he took us to see Young Sherlock Holmes, and fell asleep. It was embarrassing! I remember once watching Battlestar Galactica. The old series from the 70s. He sat and began watching it too, and when it ended he wanted to watch more, so we did. He was a reader. I really wanted to get him a Kindle this year so he could adjust the font instead of reading with a magnifying glass.

We had our fights over the years. He wasn’t an easy person to live with. I’m sure the stories I tell of him are not the same kind of stories my siblings or even his siblings tell of him. Yet he was also very progressive. Despite being a Muslim he wasn’t particularly strict. He let his teenage daughter run off to Georgia to be with her white, American military boyfriend. And later gave his blessing for us to get married. I’m sure he just realised how strong-willed I was and knew I would do it anyway, but still, I always appreciated that he didn’t make this big thing about it.

I’m still trying to figure out the best way to say goodbye to him. Things in England are so complicated, I don’t know if I ever will get back there. If I did, I think it would really hit me again, and the wound would surely reopen. I have a lot of him in me. Both good and bad. I spin a good tale. I also have a temper, and as a few companies can attest to, watch out if you try and screw over me and mine.

As I am still grieving for Jory, this new loss just feels more bittersweet than anything. I know he’s better off now, for the simple fact that he was so miserable these past months. Still, I hope he’s out there, watching over us and I hope he understands why I couldn’t say goodbye to him in person.

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