I don’t have many memories of you as my father. When I was very young and you were still married to Mum, you were always away with the Merchant Navy. As I got older, you and Mum split up and you moved in with your parents; my grandparents. This was probably the only time in my life when I saw you on a regular basis and we spent some great weekends sailing and hunting together. You taught me how to fire a shotgun and raise a sail although I have by now totally forgotten how. You even trusted me to sail the dingy back and forward to your yacht on my own while other kids my age where not. I always felt proud and trusted whenever they looked at me in envy.
Then you purchased your farm in Bangor, Wales and that was it you were gone again. The only time I saw you after that was at the funeral of Dandy, twenty years ago. I remember this is when I met your new girlfriend, Anne, who soon became your second wife. I think I met her kids too, my memory is not what it was, and it was nice to see you were happy with her because whenever I had seen you with Mum it was always rows and fights.
During the last twenty years, I have thought about you and wondered how you were getting on with your new family and I often planned to get in touch. I did not know your address but I could have easily found it through the family, I just always put it off. A number of times I thought to myself; “I really must get in touch with Dad this year…” but then another year would pass and nothing was done. Now, today, I have just learned you died last summer and it is too late. I don’t know why but I suddenly had the impulse tonight to search for you and see if there was any mention of your address on the internet. This is when I found the following…
OXTON — NORMAN DAVID, 14th June 2013. Suddenly yet peacefully at his home, aged 74 years. The loving husband of Anne, devoted father of John, Rachael, David, Diane and Pauline and proud taid of Josh, Lottie and Dan Dan; cherished son of the late Olive and Walter Oxton, dear brother of Sheila, Maureen, Peter and the late John, brother-in-law of Diane, Gary, Anne and the late Terry, and a fond uncle of all his nephews and nieces. Funeral on Tuesday, 25th June 2013. Public Service at Bangor Crematorium at 3.00pm. Family flowers only, but donations in memory will be gratefully accepted towards the RNLI.
I am not quite sure how to feel. Although I have not seen you for a long time, in the back of my mind I always knew you were there if I ever needed to find you. That is not so anymore, you are now gone forever. It is like part of me is not here anymore and yet it does not feel like a close family member has died. When my Grandad died it was one of the worse days of my life – he was the man who stepped in as a surrogate father when you weren’t around anymore – but today doesn’t feel anything like the same. I can only describe the feeling as being like when a friend or neighbour tells you that a relative of theirs has died. You commiserate with your friend but don’t really have any other feelings towards the departed because they are unknown to you.
But that shouldn’t be how it is between father and son!
I don’t blame you for not getting in touch with me just as I don’t feel guilty for not trying to find you. Life these days is just so busy and it runs away with you to the point where the Christmases almost collide with one another. When I did have contact with you when I was younger, it always pushed my Mum’s nose out of joint. If I spent the day with you I couldn’t come home and tell her what a great time I had had because I could see that it upset her. Likewise, I couldn’t tell you things about Mum because you would get angry or upset. I guess in those days your split was new and the wounds were raw. I understand that.
I am just sorry we didn’t find each other again and could have spent some time together like we did all those years ago. Remember when we had the Scalextric set up all over Nana’s house and Dandy couldn’t get anywhere near the telly for the football results to check his Pools. Happy days, it is just a shame there were not more like them.
So Dad, wherever you are, I hope you are happy.
Maybe we can meet again, some day.
I hope so!