Friday, 29 March 2013

I'm having one of those Really-Missing-My-Dad-Days

I'm having one of those Really-Missing-My-Dad-Days
29 March 2013

It happens every so often.  I think of him pretty much every day.  And most days, it’s absolutely okay.  The memories are fond and I have a little glow.

But sometimes, I have one of those Really-Missing-My-Dad-Days.  The memories are still fond.  The glow is still there.  But on these days, the missing can actually turn into a physical ache, like my heart has been squeezed too tight.  These days are always quite hard.  And the reason for today’s occurrence, was a dream I had about my dad.

It wasn’t one of those weird type of dreams that one has sometimes.  You know the type.  They normally make no sense at all.  And so he wasn’t driving a pink Cadillac in the sky.  Nor was his driving partner “The Hoff”.  He wasn’t on his way to the office of the Receiver of Revenue to deliver Easter Eggs.  And he didn’t randomly wear a skirt either.  And for that matter, he hadn’t managed to change into a twenty one year old blonde at all.

It was a perfectly normal dream.  I stood outside our old house in St James Street.  And when I opened the door everything looked exactly the way I remembered it to be.  Back when life was still so simple.  My dad was still alive.  My mom was still a teacher.  My brother was an annoying teenager, obsessed with his guitar.  My sister was an exuberant pre-teenager girl, obsessed with her appearance.  I don’t think I’d even met my Grantie and I therefore most definitely had no kids yet.

The biggest worry in my life, was what outfit I was going to wear to the latest party.  The fact that my lame parents wouldn’t buy me a new cool pair of shoes.  I most probably hadn’t spent enough time practicing for my next piano lesson.  A huge worry, the split ends on my hair I obsessed about.  But most worrying of all, were my embarrassing family.  Jeez, they were just so seriously uncool.  My brother and sister were just sooo dorky.  And as for my folks!  Worst of all, they thought they were so hip and with it.  As if! 

As I opened the front door, I could hear music coming from the lounge.  Eric Clapton of course.  Albert was sitting on his bed, guitar in his hand, strumming a tune.  His room was covered from floor to ceiling with live music posters.  Not a solitary spot of plain white wall.  And amidst all of his posters, there was always one upside down.  A tribute to Ray Charles and something we had seen in the original Blues Brothers movie.  Katrine was busy preening in front of the mirror.  Absolutely gorgeous.  She was singing along to old EC of course, until she started bellowing to my Mom, asking her what’s for supper.  I walked past the TV room/lounge, with the old little coal stove reset in the alcove with the stained glass window of the butterfly my dad had painted.  It had an ability to cast a warm glow to the entire room.  And there in the kitchen, my mom sat marking school books at the dining room table.  A heavenly pot of pea soup on the go.  She makes the best!

And right there.  Right in front of me he stood.  He was standing at the Oregon pine surface between the kitchen and the lounge, playing a game of old fashioned double pack solitaire with real cards in his hand.  One of his favourite forms of relaxing.  He barely seemed to even concentrate at all.  He looked up when I walked in.  Gave me a wink and a smile.  Naturally, I immediately walked over to give him a hug.  His hugs were legendary and truly beyond compare.  And as I hugged him tight, I got a whiff of oil paints and turpentine, because he’d been painting in the back room before.  At the surface, he had his coffee within reach, as my mom also had hers.  A smouldering Gauloises Plain cigarette, resting in the ashtray.  They were chatting about a music festival they were thinking of hosting at Grahams Town.  Which artists to get.  All the bits they’d have to put together.  Every so often, my mom would look up from her work, red pen clutched in her hand, chatting away.  Only to look down again, absentminded concentration on what she was doing once more.  She gave meaning to the term multi-tasking.

This is what I miss.  The very ordinary and mundane.  A day like any other day.  Nothing truly unique.  And it felt like we had millions of these.  I don’t even think I really appreciated them at the time.  Perhaps Katrine would have walked in later, chatting to my mom.  Albert would have loped in his teenage, floppy, long legged style.  Maybe someone would have said something funny, and we’d all have a laugh.  Which would start us all off.  As dinner was ready, the kids would set the table and help to hustle in the kitchen.  And we would all sit down to a social family meal.  Talking about our day.  Or perhaps we’d indulge in reminiscing about our favourite movies and funny scenes from it.  This was one of our best pastimes.

And after dinner?  Us girls would help tidy in the kitchen.  Albert would claim to have a sore stomach.  Again!  He claimed to have one every night, when it came to doing the dishes.  It annoyed Katrine and I sooo much and we whinged about it constantly.  My Dad would mosey about.  Perhaps play some more cards.  Maybe listen to some music.  Or watch a spot of TV.  Even go outside to paint some more, or play some drums.

When I wake up in the mornings after dreaming about my dad, I always tell Grant, “I saw my Dad last night!”  It is a bittersweet feeling.  Because nice though it is to see him, it reminds me so very harshly that he is there no more.  Perhaps I’m missing him extra hard, because I’ve got quite a lot happening in my life at the moment.  His presence would have been reassuring and his calm would have been, well calming.  In any rate, his hug seemed to cure many ails.  I could really use one of those right now.

I miss you Frankie-Baby.  And I wish you were still here.

I hope you’re painting up a storm wherever you are.  And that they’ve got really awesome live music for you.  I bet the sunflowers are simply huge and gorgeous too.  I’m sure they stock your beloved Gauloises Plain’s and that the coffee is always coming.  I bet you have the very best drum kit and that you’re jamming quite a lot.  Throwing music festivals galore for a little bit of fun.  Furthermore, I hope they let you watch your favourite movies again and play solitaire as much as you like.

Do you remember that one funny bit in……?



  1. Shame Helene. I know you miss him so much. We all do.

  2. Aaahhh Helene, I know that feeling so well, miss my parents so much, often wonder if they can see my incredible children. Xxxxx