Sitting on the train this morning on my way to work I wanted to cry then suddenly I had a warm smile.
This starts to happen when you join the club. The Dead Dads Club. It’s a club you never want to join but you never get to leave. You get welcomed by someone who is already a member, who knows your pain and can quietly acknowledge to you that there will always be a dad sized hole in your life. Father’s Day always triggers a reminder of your membership.
The point where I wanted to cry this morning was seeing a friend on Facebook telling the world that her Dad had died. She is only 25. The post was accompanied with gorgeous photos of her and her Dad when she was little and of her Dad doing things he loved. The warm smile came soon after when a well-dressed woman standing on the train near my seat picked up the phone and called her Dad. “Hi Dad, it’s me. Are you doing anything on Sunday? It’s Father’s Day, yes. Shall we come around for lunch? I’ll bring food. If there is anyone else you would like to come too just let me know and I’ll make enough for everyone.”
My dad at my engagement party, just before he died. Image: supplied.
I was welcomed to the Dead Dads Club by my friend Ash - her dad died when we were in high school. She howled when she was told, the echoes of her pain reverberating down long, empty corridors of lockers as students sat in class. None of us knew what do other than hug her and tell her she would be okay. She knew what to do when she welcomed me to the club, she said she knew my pain and that it's okay to feel it.
I had a full-body reaction to Dad’s death. It was the deepest cry and anguish I have ever felt. I couldn’t stay on my feet, my husband held me as I wept. For me the initial grief was like large dumper waves that pull you under: I lost orientation, I couldn’t breathe and I didn’t know when I would surface again. Sometimes you just get one, but initially you get a whole series and they just keep coming and you never know when they are going to stop.
My Dad died three days after my engagement party, six months before the wedding he had so anticipated.
I was born when Dad was 48 and as a teenager I joked with him he was so old we'd take a scooter down the aisle when I got married. Instead I walked myself down, with a picture of mum and dad on their wedding day in my pocket. It was a picture of them walking the same aisle in the same church.
Me with dad, and the best dad-pointails. Image supplied.
I adored my father. We had the same initials. David George and Dimity Georgia Paul. Mail would come to the house for DG Paul and even as a kid and it was obviously a bill I insisted that it would be for me and he would let me open it.
Dad was a high school teacher, a lover and constant learner of History, Theology and the English language. He reminisced to me how he was always in awe of how intelligent his father had been, a Presbyterian and later Uniting Church Minister, who knew not just his religious texts but philosophy and history so deeply. He still wished he could ask him questions. I know that wish now all too well.
The school holidays were spent at the beach, on camping road trips or whiling away days reading. Although we were a large blended family of two parents and six children, being the youngest by so far meant that the trio of mum, dad and I was a pretty tight unit. Dad was often my play mate as mum often worked the holidays.