Thoughts of Dad on his Third Anniversary

Dad and Me
Dad and Me

Today has been surreal, intense and instinctual.  Dad died at 10:57 on this date three years ago (aged 91) but back then it was a Friday and not a Tuesday.  I never know if it’s nature or time, or both, that move what seems like the immovable.

I’ve been very conscious of his anniversary since last week and decided to just go with my instincts in terms of how I would approach it.  So where did instinct bring me? Lots of walks on the beach here in Tramore ~ a place that he loved with a passion. Sunday afternoon had me screaming for Co. Clare in the All-Ireland Hurling Final remembering that day in 1995 when he made his way to Croke Park to see his native Clare win the All-Ireland for the first time in his lifetime.

Yesterday, I went on a rummage through some of his photographs and a few pushed themselves forward out of the thousands with great insistence.  One was of the harbour in Annalong, Co. Down where we spent a family holiday in the late 1960s. Dad always loved this photograph and I have come to see harbours as very comforting places since reading Cicero’s book On a Life Well Spent in the last year or so of Dad’s life.

… the nearer I draw to my end, it seems like discovering the land at sea, that, after the tossings of a tedious and stormy voyage, will yield me a safe and quiet harbour.  (Cicero, 50 BC).

Annalong, Co. Down
Annalong, Co. Down

The weather was very kind today and the car instinctively brought me out along the Copper Coast.  At 10:57, I was swimming in the sea on the lovely beach in Bonmahon where  we shared  many, many Summer days over the years.

I passed an old school house between Bonmahon and Stradbally and my mind flashed back to yet another of  the photographs from yesterday  ~ the excitement of a group of kids in Castleblayney, Co. Monagahan during a wheelbarrow race.  There I was on the sideline, hopping from foot to foot as Dad captured the action and, no doubt, remembered his own days in short pants!

Wheelbarrow Race, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan
Wheelbarrow Race, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan

So what, if anything, has changed in the the last three years in terms of thinking about Dad?  I can honestly say that there are far fewer flashbacks to the tough stuff associated with his dying and death and that’s a big relief.  There are hardly any tears. I seem to have come to a realisation that death is not straightforward black and white.  Rather, it feels like Dad is with me in all sorts of ways ~ that he certainly didn’t just vanish out of my life.

Of course, I miss our chats that were so wide-ranging and his wealth of advice. I also miss the way he called me Child right up to the end of his life. No one else ever called me that and no one else ever will again.

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

18 thoughts on “Thoughts of Dad on his Third Anniversary”

  1. I sympathise with you on the anniversary of your Dad. I lost mine over twenty five years ago and still miss him so badly it hurts! I too feel he never really left me and I enjoy speaking of him and remembering him on my blog. Best wishes

  2. In a couple of months, it will be three years for me, too, since my Dad died. It seems that every year, I miss him more instead of less. You did a beautiful job capturing something of the essence of your Dad and of you with this combination of text and photos.
    I’ll be thinking of you and your Dad tonight.
    Blessings from across the sea.

    1. Hi Claire, please accept my sympathy on your father’s death. I wouldn’t say that ‘I miss’ Dad more or less now than three years ago, It seems to be that the concept of ‘missing’ has changed in that I have become acutely aware, especially in the last 6 months or so, that there is a whole well of memories that he left ~ in terms of words, and I think I’m very fortunate that he was huge into photography so I have his life’s work to look at. Also, for the first year or more, much of the ‘missing’ was all tied up with thoughts of his last months whereas now I seem to be able to see his whole life ~ which had its ups and downs ~ but which is full of vibrancy and I’d have to say ‘colour.’
      I hope it gets easier for you. This third anniversary was like a huge weight and I had no idea how I would be ….. it’s as fragile as that!
      Best wishes, jx

  3. What lovely memories you have of your Dad…..they are special. So nice of you to share them with us. When my Dad passed away I was amazed at the things that I remembered from my childhood. Things that lay dormant for years but surfaced after he died. Isn’t it just wonderful to have beautiful memories of times together. They never leave us and we never stop loving them!

    1. Thanks Derv! He had one helluva heart. I notice that he has marked this quote in a book called a ‘Word from the Wise’:

      ‘ We must not always try to plumb the depths of the human heart; the truths it contains are among those that are best seen in half-light or in perspective.’ (Francois Chateaubriand).

  4. A very moving recollection of a much loved Father. The reference to him calling you Child was especially important as we don’t always fully value these words that only a parent or child can call each other.In modern times children call parents by their christian names.Till my parents died I always called them Mam or Dad and my own children call me by the same.This is something I hope will never change and it’s a name I truly treasure.Thanks for sharing this combination of text and photos, Jean. You a lucky to have such precious memories.

  5. What a wonderful tribute to your Dad. I lost my Dad on July 4, 2003 and I still miss him and think of him every day.

    I hope your cherished memories of your Dad will continue to provide you with some comfort.


    1. Nancy, your father was obviously hugely important to you and it’s so good to hear that you think of him every day. I certainly can’t imagine a time when Dad wouldn’t be a part of my day to day thoughts ~ so often over funny things, as he loved a good laugh! Even thinking about that makes me smile.

  6. Beautiful photos and memories. I hope your memories will keep making you smile. I’m happy to hear you still feel him with you. Love like that will always be with us.

  7. Thank you for sharing your thought of your dad on his 3rd anniversary in 2013. Mine will be 3 yrs today and the memories is not getting any easier to cope with. unlike the 1st year and until last year he popped up into my dreams. At first not looking but wit sad face.. later more cheerful and with smiles but up to now he haven’t visited me anywhere in my dreams but our furkid, Chiko did barked at about 3am around the time he passed on back then at an empty spot. And I miss him even more than before. So many unsaid words.. so many unanswered questions.. & so many unshared stories. If only our culture was not this native way… i would have hugged him without any reservations.

    1. Dear Brenda Jane, I’m so sorry to hear of your father’s death and the fact that you feel that there are so many unsaid words.
      I must say I don’t see ‘time as being a great healer’ in and of itself. It seems to be what happens and what one does with the time.
      One of the most helpful things I’ve found has been writing a private journal about my parents, from their youths right up to their deaths. I wrote the end first and then went back to the beginning. It felt so consoling and liberating and I really felt that it helped to develop connections with them which had been loose threads up to that.
      Do keep in touch and I hope that you find a way that will make the loss easier. jx

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