colours were a blur back then, before the War began
the world was grey ~ bundled in arms, given to faces
you didn’t recognise, could you tell who was real
cries for those you knew, unheard in darkest rooms
years passed, at six, she took you back, to share her life
~ with him, who fought with drunken screams, until you
ran away, back to the arms, that held you soft
and there was a silent love
confusion, upheaval, as you were taken ‘home’
~ biological this time, to the father you never knew
knees plunged deep in Europe’s snow, tiny hands
chilled to the bone, sent to chop the wood, with pockets sewn
by the man whose roof you slept beneath, hands could not
be warmed ~ the icy bitter winds, the threadbare coat and
pants, no boots to stop the damp, doing as instructed
curled body, a child that attic slept, did you dream
your cries should have been louder, what were your thoughts
loneliness your friend; a 1930’s scholar, University
was for you ~ that is what your teacher said, but your father
forbade it, no money to be wasted on school
your half sibling, ate his meal whilst warming chilled bones
by the fire ~ the woman who did not give you birth
demanding your meals eaten, on the landing of the stairs
so you sat and watched in silence, without love
a child’s life
should not be like this
a childhood that was yours
I wish you had screamed louder Pop
you didn’t have to scream at all
©jmtacken 9th November 2013
I wish to do my Pop’s life in prose. As this is my 660th post. It may be some time before the next one, as there is a lot of research to be done.
What a few days it has been, I have been absent all weekend until now.
Pop wasn’t well on Thursday, I won’t go into the details…but put it this way – he needs a proper diet and to move around more than he is doing at present. He also fell out of bed 😦 2nd fall in 9 days. I spent Friday with them, giving him juices to drink and trying to get him better for the Saturday (yesterday) and his youngest Grandson’s Wedding.
Friday night we had plans in place, they were booked for the hairdressers (early 7.30am) god awful hour to be up, but they are early risers. We, Mr. S and I were to pick them up at 2.45 Saturday to drive them to the Wedding.
Later that night it all turned sour, we cancelled the taxi for the hairdressers. I tucked Pop into bed, putting a hot water bottle on his tummy, putting a wheat pack on his back to help his discomfort. I told him I would trim his hair if he was able to go and also blow wave mums (last minute strategies in place). I sat down along side him on the bed and he said “what would I do without you, but I am so over living like this”. I told him, he isn’t going anywhere yet and to work to gain his strength back.
Saturday morning and the phone call came saying he’s not any better and they couldn’t go 😦
Mr. S and I drove up to the Winery, a little windy but the sun was shining. My nephew Shaun standing nervously in the gazebo waiting for his bride to appear. The bridesmaids walked down and then Emma his gorgeous bride. I watched my young nephew, put his hand to his chest and mouth WOW. Yes, I started with the tears then. She looked stunning (as all brides do). They exchanged vows, they placed the rings, their photos were taken. We were asked for the family shot, with heals sinking into the lawn we smiled and tried to balance.
We then went stood on the decking overlooking the beautiful Winery and had canapes and champers. I could go on and on about the night how perfect everything was, but I would possible bore you all to tears even further.
I phoned mum and Pop throughout the night to see how they were.
The next door neighbour answered the phone, then got mum, who then couldn’t explain and put Pop on the phone…. he had another fall in the shower. She tried to lift him up but couldn’t. The neighbours couldn’t as they have bad backs, so they called the SES…. now for those who don’t know the SES this stands for State Emergency Services… they help out in storms etc removing fallen trees and the like. I DO NOT KNOW why they called them and not the Ambulance.
Poor Pop was then lifted out of the shower with some device onto a stretcher, they then called the Ambo’s and back he went to the Hospital. They did the battery of tests as last time and nothing showing as to why he fell. I was in tears outside at the venue, as I spoke to him, friends and daughters came to my aid. They were wonderful.
Today I went over there at 7.45am…got to sleep at 1am…. I am so tired right now. He has no injuries apart from his pride a little from being ‘hoisted like a tree trunk’ as he put it from the shower stark naked.
So there was so much happiness mixed with sadness yesterday. We (my brother and I ) have instigated talks about more care being required … tis a good thing.
2 other things upset me yesterday – I have a beautiful marquee set gold diamond ring, I had it enlarged a few weeks ago to fit another finger and wore it out once 2 weeks ago. I went to put it on yesterday and…no diamond. I cried, I bought this for myself as a 40th birthday present. I don’t know if it’s possible that the jeweller did something to the claws that held the diamond, but I am visiting him tomorrow to ask.
The other thing… both my girls looked amazing at the Wedding and mum didn’t take a photo 😦 Hopefully when we get a copy of the group shot I shall be able to put up. So disappointed, but I guess it’s not like they aren’t going to ever ‘dress-up’ ever again.
I have previously written posts about my Pop but today I needed to write once more, so forgive me for not having a ‘cheery post’ to submit tonight. I simply need to be able to talk about how I feel.
I am watching my father decline rather rapidly. It is the most heart breaking thing I have had to witness (apart from having to hold my 16 year old dog as the Vet put her to sleep) and anyone who has cared for their elderly parents will know what I am writing about. This.. this is something almost unbearable to face.
The last few weeks he has been experiencing so much trouble walking, he struggles to actually raise his leg to place one foot in front of the other. His hands also shake uncontrollably and he is embarrassed to eat in public.
Thankfully they are only a seven minute drive from where we live, so I am visiting as much as I can, helping in whatever way I can. Mum is also struggling with walking but currently she is managing better than what Pop is.
They both are so frustrated with life. The last couple of days I have heard mum say, “If I could end this I would, I can’t do what I use too, I hate being this way”. This afternoon around 4pm mum phoned, just as Mr. S and I were heading out to watch a Movie. The call of help – “Dad had a lie down in bed and he is standing but can’t walk”.
Mr. S. and I drove over immediately. Dad was standing holding onto his walker, his whole body shaking. I gave him some pain killers and helped him onto his chair, his middle back and hip are hurting and he has sciatica symptoms. The issue is that he is not walking or able to exercise and his muscles are seizing up. After making sure he was comfortable (as there was really nothing else I could do to help), we went to the pictures (the whole time me watching Oblivion) thinking of how he was. As soon as it was finished, I went back to see him.
He was standing cleaning his teeth holding onto the basin. I asked him if he wanted to get his pyjamas on so he would be more comfortable. Then I changed him, taking off his glasses, his jumper, undoing his shirt and slipping his pyjama top on carefully and very gingerly. I then took his track suit pants off (sweat pants) and put his PJ pants on.
This gorgeous man, my father, telling me it was all right for me to see his ‘privates’, thankfully no embarrassment from his side and certainly none from mine.
Then I gently rubbed some pain cream into his back and put his dressing gown on before helping him back to his chair.
He sat there shaking his head, feeling so depressed about how he had become, how he felt that life was not worth living anymore. This is the hard part, watching the man that you have idolised since you could remember feel that their life no longer holds any purpose. I gave him a sedative, which I told him to take 20 minutes before he went to bed to help him get through the night without pain, I turned down his bed and placed a pillow for him to put his legs on. I gave him a drink of water. I watched as mum put her arms around him and stroked his white hair with tears in her eyes saying “We are here for you”. It is so hard to be strong in front of them, I turned my head not to show my tears. He replied “My girls”.
I have tried to talk them into moving into an Aged Care facility, but mum unfortunately is being a little stubborn and refuses to move anywhere. Granted uprooting yourself from your family home at their age is a difficult proposition. I worry constantly about how they are coping and I feel guilty that I am not there 24 hours a day to help and support them. My life is now centred on being there for them whenever I can, this is what a child should do, as our parents age, we are the ones who then have to nurture them, as they did for us all those years.
I wrote a card for Pop some time back and he must have misplaced it and I found it on his bed head this afternoon. I wrote what I thought of him as a father as a man as an individual. This soft spoken caring human being who has never said a wrong word about anyone in his life, who has always tried to be there for everyone is now in need of my help. He said “I read your card Ginger” (my nickname) you have a way of making a grown man cry”. I just hugged him and tears came to both of us. I sat in front of him and told him I know how frustrated he must be feeling and that he has to think that now he is in this stage of his life that he is limited with what he is able to do. I told him not to get depressed about his situation or mums, but to try each day to simply do what they can and what they aren’t able to do, I am there to do.
I fully understand why the elderly want to pass from the earth plain, to obtain relief from their suffering, from the embarrassment that they feel of no longer being fit and able without requiring or asking for help. It’s humiliating for them. For so very long the mere thought of either of my parents passing has made me almost physically ill. No one wants this, no one wants to say goodbye to those that they love. Now though I understand, when I watch them, barely able to walk or in pain, now I understand…it terrifies me beyond belief, this is something I hide in the back of my mind wishing for it to go away, to bring me back the parents that I had, for their sake not for mine. Sadly I know this will not happen and they will decline further and all I can do as their daughter is to be there.
We can say they have a ‘good innings’ but that does not bring me comfort.
If I could be by their side all day to help them I would, but as I am working now it is an impossibility. Tomorrow morning I am going over to do the weeding and mow the lawns and just be with my mum and dad.
Oh my darling Pop I wish that you weren’t facing this part of your life as you are, knowing that you were once able bodied, I understand how this must be tearing you apart inside.
Child touch you daddy’s knee.
do not cry my child, he is your dad
he is a stranger I know, brush your tears
away, for they now should be tears of happiness
he has come back to us, he shall hug you and tell you
how sorry he is, for the years he has missed, the years that
he didn’t get to know you, see he also cries, he didn’t mean to
go away, he was young and scared, as your mummy was, but I
gave you birth and never a day has passed that I regret having you
he has missed you growing, missed the first words you uttered, missed
your first steps, your laughter, don’t cry, he is not a stranger any longer not
to you or to me, he is your father and he is sorry, so very sorry for running away
sorry for not being able to hold or watch you grow, to comfort you or me but he has returned, touch his knee angel, your daddy has returned to us, no….no cry with him little girl….cry your daddy is now home
I adore this photo, to others who see it, it’s just another photo from ramblings or (‘mumsy’ as I am now affectionately known.) I just want to pick him up and give him the biggest cuddle and tell him it will all be alright.
To me it’s a picture of a sad little boy in the war years whose parents didn’t want him, who was given away to others to be looked after, but who treated him cruelly. A young little boy who looks so lost.
A young boy whose pockets where sewn up so he couldn’t keep warm in the bitterly cold months of a European Winter. A young innocent boy who was made to sit at the top of the stairs whilst the ‘other family – his stepmother being one’ sat and ate at the table with the rest of the family downstairs.
A boy who was encouraged at school because he had such a brilliant mind and when the Principal approached his family to urge that they send him to University, they didn’t want to waste their money.
My favourite photo because though there is sadness in his face, later on in his life he fought adversities and became a happy. caring man and a loving devoted father.
Now can you see any likeness? Perhaps the baby round cheeks..or perhaps the ears?
Please don’t tell mum you think that you’re dying – Mum told me today that’s what you said.
I don’t want to hear those words
Don’t say you think your life’s at an end – those words cut to deep.
I watch you slowly find your balance when you stand & that a short walk makes you weary – I see the strength you once had is gone & I see the frustration in your eyes because of it. I see the tremors in your hands which I know is hard for you to understand.
But I don’t want to hear those words
I see the changes in you, I see that my dad has grown older – don’t make me cry by saying what you did today. I love my nick-name Ginger though I don’t know why I have it – I love the bond we have which has grown stronger throughout the years.
But I don’t want to hear those words
I look at you & think of all our laughter & our tears – the advice you have imparted – the guidance that you have given – I’m your daughter “your girl” & I’m here for you – you know that…right? – I know this can’t be easy for you – growing old never is & I wish I could do more.
But I don’t want to hear those words
I love & cherish you so much & it hurts me to know those words were spoken – it frightens me of what will eventually come – but that time is not yet with us – so I can only ask that you try not to be disheartened or make apologies for your age, for I will be your support, be it just my hand to hold you steady or a hug to show how much I care.
But please I don’t want to hear those words
For my Pop,
This is what I wrote & read to my father not so long ago.
For the last few months I have thought more and more about wanting to sit with you and say what I am about to. Instead I being the writer have written those words and will read it, as hopefully I shall find this easier.
What can a daughter say to her father, that I love you totally? Admire your courage to survive your upbringing, your strength to conquer against all odds your escape during the war. Your tenacity to fight for a better life, not only for yourself but for my mother and your children.
You are a man of dignity and honesty. You have been and still are a wonderful husband to mum and a truly devoted and loving father to your children. You have always been there to support and encourage and give me much-needed advice. You have been the disciplinarian when needed when I was younger, the confidant as I grew and the person I could rely on.
Every daughter will say their father is the best, but of you it is true. It is a pity we don’t ‘know’ the man before they became our father, as I would have liked to have known you in your youth, or a young man, but then again are you so different from then to now? As life rolls by I have so many memories of you and my life is the better for it. I would not change one moment, nor one day.
I have wanted to say these things to you for sometime and even though I pray with my entire being that you will be with me for many years to come, reality means that may not be so. This is why I say this to you now, because I do not want to miss the opportunity of not being able to tell you. I adore you Pop, you will always be with me on this earth or when your time comes to leave it. Perhaps believe in the ever after, so that I can still talk to you and know that you are around me. No words shall comfort my grief or pain when you are not here to talk to or laugh with. I shall remember playing childhood games with you, I shall remember sharing a loaf of bread and a full piece of salami in a car with you and not having anything to cut them with. Our memories will being a smile to my heart. I love you unconditionally and respect you as my father and as a human being.
You have brought me up well and taught me well and for that I am eternally grateful.
You are in my heart and so much a part of me, that tears well in my eyes as I write these words.
But I wanted to say them – had to say them. I am so proud to be your daughter and even more proud that you Pop are my father. So with this I close, I wipe the tears and I vow to spend as much time with you as I can. I love you.
I shared this with you, to implore those that may read it, to say what they feel to their parents, before the chance has been taken from you. I did and I have made peace within myself, that when his time does come he will know my thoughts and how much I love him. I held his hand and struggled with the tears as I read this to him, but I had the opportunity to do so and for that I am happy.
Remember the lyrics to Mike and the Mechanics Song The Living Years-
I wasn't there that morning When my Father passed away I didn't get to tell him All the things I had to say