04 August 2015
He is 83 years old and has been the rock of my life.
His twinkly blue eyes, his impatience with things that take too long to happen and his ability to paint unusual water colours are just three of the things my dad imprinted my DNA with.
Jim, my dad. Twice married and twice widowed. Father to four kids one deceased (My eldest brother Jim) Step dad to two, granddad and great grandad and great great grandad to a heap of kids all who are good at unusual water colours – that’s my dad.
The Man who always has a clean laundered handkerchief in his pocket (thanks to his ever attentive son in law who cares for him daily, runs his house, washes his clothes and does all his major care needs ).
We are close, always have been.
He was and still is a brilliant grandpa to Ashley my daughter.
He took her holidays, took her swimming, took her to stare at squirrels and helped raise her alongside my beautiful step mum who passed away five years ago.
I called him two years ago from my pals flat in Los Angeles and I heard him having a stroke on the phone. His speech was slurred and his questions were bizarre.
My heart clenched and I had to hang up on him (not sure if that was the last time I would hear his voice) and contact my husband in Glasgow who took him to hospital and sat by his side for 34 hours.
I am blessed with good men in my life.
He recovered. Got more frail. No more would he get off the Glasgow subway tube and meet me at the stairs.
No more would he sit in a cafe with me and flirt with the waitress.
He was too frail , he became housebound.
Now as time has passed he is slowly succumbing to dementia.
The proud, funny and stubborn old bastard who laughed at my filthiest jokes now calls me to ask when he is going home. “You are home dad” I gulp down the phone standing outside a comedy gig at 11pm at night. People around me are happy and laughing and my heart just feels as though it’s cracked like a fragile crystal bauble.
“Well if you won’t help me, then that’s up to you” He shouts, his voice filled with anxiety and he bangs down his phone.
I have never let my dad down before. Now I am letting him down by assuring him he is safe. I blink tears in the street and run to get a cab to his house.
I hug him when I get into his house. He grabs my hand tight and looks into my eyes and says “Am sorry Janey, I hate being a burden, I love you” and then he puts his warm old hand and lays it on the side of my face and kisses my head.
The man who carried me over puddles is back.
“I am off to the fringe for a month dad, please be safe and don’t wander outside when am gone I will worry” I say to him.
He smiles and tells me “My legs are fucked, even if I do get outside I can’t get far and my son in law will keep an eye on me, get onstage baby it’s where you are happy”
Be safe dad. Stay there till I get back. I will be home.