Thursday, 3 April 2014

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,
I hope you don’t mind me sharing the eulogy below with the world.
But you see I’m proud of it in a strange way. It was the hardest, most difficult thing I ever had to write, and I sometimes wondered if it was worth the tears and the pain – or whether I should have let someone else write it.  But when it came down to it – I knew it had to be me.
This was the last thing I would do for you, and it had to be the best that I could do. I had to make you proud.
And now I’m sharing it with the world because the internet is the best way I know of to make something permanent. As long as the internet exists – this post will exist. A strange, cybernetic monument to you. And I know you would have liked that – considering how much you loved computers.
I want the world to be able to see the man that I knew. I want people from all over the world to be able to read this and see a little glimpse of an incredible father, and a wonderful man who is desperately missed.
I want this out there because I don’t ever want to forget you.
So this is it, Dad. My tribute to you. It may not be the most perfect thing I’ve ever written – I doubt it’s particularly grammatically correct – but it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. The most honest thing I’ve ever written.

David George Dorrington  1947-2014

JRR Tolkien once said, through the wise words of Bilbo Baggins:

‘It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’

And he was right. It takes a brave person to let life take you where it will, into new situations and uncertain territory.

Dad was never afraid though. He had no fear of stepping onto the road and letting it sweep him away. In doing so he carried us along with him. Dad never shied away from a road or path others would turn aside from. When he met mum, a woman with a young child, he didn’t hesititate. He took the road, and took the woman and child into his heart.

I never thought of Tracie as my half-sister, because Dad never did. Because he never thought of her as anything other than his own. It was the way Dad was.

When his road diverged and he had a choice - stay in the UK or go to a far off country so different from the one he grew up in - he made the kind of choice he always made - the brave one.

He packed up his bags, his wife, and three small children and took the hard road - but the more exciting one.

Later when that same road led him back into Kuwait just before the Iraqi Invasion it became the toughest, most rocky road our family ever faced. But Dad faced it head on. And Dad, being Dad, didn’t just look out for himself. Instead he chose to help others. He opened his home to other men who needed a place to hide, and kept them safe too.

I was too young back then to know much of what was going on - or to remember it, but I know Dad was brave and selfless, helping others get out of the country, even when it meant he didn’t get out himself.

After the war Dad’s road diverged again. Most of the expats we’d known chose not to return to Kuwait, but Dad chose the other path. He chose to go back into Kuwait - back into a country badly damaged by war - in order to make a difference.

I’ve seen the pictures - of a sky back with smoke from oil fires - of people’s homes looted and vandalised - of a church senselessly ransacked.

Dad was there, he packed up people’s precious memories, he opened his home to anyone who needed a place to relax, or even a sneaky beer, he rebuilt the church and got it running again. He did what a lot of people couldn’t or wouldn’t do.

Yet after all that, Dad still wasn’t afraid of what life would throw at him. He followed his road to Cyprus, Bahrain, back to the UK, and out to Abu Dhabi. It even took him to Kenya for a while. Sometimes we went with him, other times he went it alone, but I know that we, his family, were never far from his thoughts.

Through all these places Dad had a few hobbies and passions that stayed with him.

He was a Scout Leader - he’d been a Scout himself as a boy. He was Skip to his Scouts - and it seems is still an inspiration at 3rd High Wycombe Scorpion scouts, where, ‘what would skip do’ has been known to be asked - even 30 years later.

He loved the stage. From serious plays to pantomime and he made a fine Zena warrior princess. The only time I got to shout at him with repercussions was when I played his Grand daughter in The Weekend - I was fifteen and it was the highlight of my year.

He was passionate about his darts and his rugby - playing the former and watching the latter, but both with a beer in his hand.

A lot of people upon hearing he was into his campanology could only imagine what that was - but he was a bell ringer from his teens - and anytime he was back in the UK he took the chance to go and ring some bells. It was the last thing he did, and I know it made him happy.

But above all else, what Dad loved more than anything else, was people. Dad was a larger than life, soul of the party kind of man - because he loved people.

He loved to talk to them, didn’t matter what colour, race or creed, Dad could talk to them all. It was one of the things that made him so special - his ability to open his heart up to anyone. I’ve lost track of the number of ‘adoptive’ kids he and Mum have had over the years. It’s only surpassed by the number of adoptive animals he and mum opened their homes and hearts to.

Over his life Dad has been many things to many people. Son, brother, Uncle, Godfather and friend - but above all - a husband and a father.

Over the years, as a family, our lives have all diverged, and we have taken our own roads. For Jo and Tracie it was families of their own here in the UK. For Ian it was a life in Cyprus with a wife and a dog. For me it was a life in the sun a thousand miles away.

But no matter how far away our roads took us we always knew Mum and Dad were there, just as they have been our whole lives. I, for one, knew I could always look back and see what it was I was looking for, because I’ve always known if I could have a relationship half as good as Mum and Dad’s, then I would be an incredibly lucky person.

Like most girls, my Dad has been the yard stick against which all men are measured, and I feel sorry for them. Because it’s a very tough act to measure up to.

One day my life may lead into marriage and a family of my own, and I can only hope I’ll be able to give them what Mum and Dad gave me.

Dad and I had a conversation once, and he told me he worried he’d made the wrong choice. Had he done the right thing in taking us all with him on his road, or would it have been better to have stayed in one place, put down roots and never let the road sweep us away? I told him straight that he was crazy. I told him he’d done exactly the right thing. I had a childhood i would never forget - and along the way Dad inspired a love of new places and new things - a love of people and a love of books. Much of what I am - including being a writer - I owe to Dad. Because he always dreamed - he always loved, and he was always ready to let the road sweep him away.

Now Dad’s road has taken him in a new direction - away from us.

And it’s a road we can’t follow - not just yet. But I know he’ll be watching us - from far down the road - watching our lives taking us to new places and new experiences. He’ll be watching his children, grandchildren and great grand-children - as excited as we are to see what direction our lives take.

And one day, a long time from now, our roads will take us down the same path and he’ll be there. With a thousand new stories to tell.

After all -

‘Still round the corner there may wait,

A new road or secret gate,

And though I oft have passed them by,

A day shall come at last when I,

Shall take the hidden paths that run,

West of the Moon, East of the Sun.’


I miss you, Dad.

1 comment:

  1. I am honoured to have shared the road with your Dad for just a short while but it is a memory that will stay with me. I'm wiping away the tears while writing this, Thank you Nicola for sharing your feelings with us. Chris