Recently I've been thinking a lot about my Dad who passed away just over nine years ago. Although he wasn't my natural father he was my adoptive Dad and I loved him very much. The one thing that makes me sad is that he didn't live to see his grandchildren graduate from college and grow into adulthood, I know he would have loved to have had real man-to-man conversations with them and would have been so proud of them too. I feel sad for them also that they no longer have elderly family members except for one paternal grand aunt who has now reached the great age of ninty three. (Above image: Dad on my wedding day).
I remember when I was about ten or twelve Dad telling me he'd been a soldier in the Irish Army and that he rode a horse and carried a rifle! To me that was amazing and I probably bored the socks off everyone telling them about my brave Dad and his military adventures. He even had the nickname of "Gunner". Of course he never fought in a war but knowing me I most likely invented some gruesome stories about his bloody battle days! (Above image: Dad in uniform, 1930's?).
The early life of this brave soldier was tinged with so many sad events. A few years following his death I wrote: "My adoptive father also had more than his fair share of sadness to contend with. As a baby he lost his parents and sister to illness and a tragic accident and as a result he and his siblings were raised by his grandmother. Not a great start to life.
I gather times weren't too bad during his adolescence and early adulthood although he did leave school at ten years of age. His marriage, which should have brought him the long-awaited happiness he deserved, ended in tragedy. His wife died thirty six weeks into her pregnancy from a "retroperitoneal haemorrhage" according to the death certificate. Of course, the baby died along with her.
Two years later he married my adoptive mother who sadly was not able to give him any children either. So, given all the sad and traumatic events in his life, it sure doesn't take a degree in psychology to figure out where his hurt was coming from. Still, for the most part, he was a good father to me and a loving husband to my mother...."
"....one of my happiest memories as a child was when my father, on our way home from Mass on Sunday, would buy me the Beano and Dandy comics and read them to me before dinner. It's those kind of moments that I hold dear and despite everything they were the best parents I could ever have hoped for. In some ways, they were as innocent as children themselves".
After my adoptive mother died Dad's own health slowly went downhill. Although he had a heart condition for years it was his wheezy chest that was always his problem. Still, that didn't stop him attending all of the activities that were arranged for the senior citizens in his area and even going on holidays around the country with them. He lived life to the full and was loved by one and all. At just over eighty years of age he got his first passport and flew to Lourdes telling everyone that the flight was just like a car journey!
I'm so happy that he lived into the twenty first century even if it was for only six months. His death was a total shock as he'd gone into hospital for a bronchoscopy and was expected to be discharged within a few days. Unfortunately, following the test he had some bleeding which at first didn't seem too serious. He continued going about his business as usual, watching tele and playing cards with his fellow patients in the day room. Exactly one week following the test just as he had returned from a card game in the day room and was getting ready for bed he had a massive haemorrhage which took his life within minutes. At the hospital that night I was told by the nurse that he whispered my name as he was dying. I was also told he didn't suffer and that makes me extremely thankful to God.
These days when I remember all the wonderful times we shared I consider myself so privileged to have known this man and even happier that he was my Dad. May he Rest In Eternal Peace.
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