Me: hooooooray, Hiya Dad!
Dad: Hello Meg,
Me: I can't believe they've finally sorted the phone out. It's been 10 and a half years
Dad: No, really, that long?
Me: Gawd Dad, I don't know where to start.... How are you? Is that a silly question?
Dad: No, it's not a silly question. I'm fine. It has taken me a long time to get used to it over here. It's really good though apart from obviously not been able to be near you and your sister. I have been spending all my time with your Grandad and Grandma. It's lovely to see them together again. We go cycling all the time.
Me: That sounds great. Dad my heart is beating really fast. Is yours?
Dad: Yes love, it is.
Me: So, do you know what happened after you died?
Dad: I followed you all very closely; it broke my heart to see you so upset.
Me: I wondered if you were there or not. It made me feel better to think you were, so that's what I told myself. There are times when I think I can smell the hospital and your burnt skin. Does it look the same?
Dad: No, I look how I did before the explosion. I can't remember anything from the hospital. It was like a dream. I could hear your voices, but I didn't feel any pain. I know you were worried I felt claustrophobic. I didn't. It was actually a clam quite serine feeling. I think the time was more for you and your sister to begin to accept me going.
Me: Did you know?
Dad: I had a feeling.
Me: I wondered why you wrote the list after your birthday. Saying what each thing we'd done reminded you of. I laughed when you said bony M reminded you of making babies and having them! I was like "Daaad you can't say that, it's rude!"
Me: You did always say you didn't want to get old.
Dad: I know, I do wonder if I was conditioned to think like that because I was going to die 2 months after my 50th birthday, whether I liked it or not.
Me: Dad, I'm 30! Can you believe it?
Dad: I know love; it's gone fast hasn't it. Your sister's 34.
Me: What do you think of their two sons? And her husband?
Dad: They're great. I'm so proud of you both. You've got fantastic partners. When are you and Phil going to start settling down?
Me: I'm not sure yet. I hope in the not too distant future. We're trying to sort our work visas for NZ out. It will be so nice to experience such a big thing together. Phil is being really supportive and trying to help me achieve being a photographer. Being self-employed is hard isn't it Dad. I wish I could ring you all the time for some advice. I now know what you were going through when you used to get up in the middle of the night worrying about money. And that feeling of having so many ideas your brain feels like it's going to burst or go into meltdown. I can see your face and now imagine the turmoil that was going on inside.
Dad: it wasn't all bad. We did have some fun too.
Me: I know, it's just I feel like I could have a real conversation with you now about ‘proper' things. I'm sorry I used to go to sleep when we were driving over to visit Grandma. Such wasted talking time. I could have learned so much from you in those 50-minute journeys. I miss Grandma. Isn't it strange that she died so soon after you? It must have been so painful for her to see you like that.
It still makes me smile when I think of her laugh, and us driving around the Yorkshire dales listening to Burt Kamphet.
Dad: I'm happy you felt relaxed enough to go to sleep on those journeys Meg. We didn't know what was going to happen did we. You just have to remember that feeling of happiness when we used to drive around, no one can take that away from you Meg. One day you will be able to give your kids that same feeling. You know how much I Love you.
Me: I know Dad. I reread the cards you sent me over the years & when I was at university and try and apply them to things now, as though you've just sent them. Especially the one that said it wasn't my degree you cared about; it was me. I can imagine you saying that about my career. Also the card that said we only live once and we should grab every opportunity we get with both hands. I try really hard to do that Dad.
Dad: Remember to laugh Meg; you weren't given that smile for nothing.
Me: You're just saying that because I've got your smile! I like having it. People that used to know you, when they see me, say "oh haven't you got your Dad's smile" I can't tell you how proud that makes me feel.
Me: Dad, did you hear Mum saying to me that you're the nicest man she's ever met?
Dad: Yes I did, I felt very flattered. I regret not giving her enough of my time and affections. I'm not surprised she looked else where for it. It's a shame. Things could have been different.
Me: It would have been nice to grow up without the arguments and waiting on door steps for you to pick me up, late, week in week out. I was always the last one to get picked up from school. I used to come up with the most elaborate excuses as to why you were late. You were a workaholic, I can understand why. It is ironic that that was what killed you.
Dad: It used to upset me so much seeing you stood on your own. I wish I had taken on an employee who I could have entrusted the business with and had proper quality time with you both. None of the answering phone calls when we were in the middle of a conversation.
Me: I remind myself of you, when I work from home and one of our cats Figaro sits on my knee. I have a vision of you in your office with Sam on your knee. They are very alike. You would love this house, in fact, I know you DO love this house; I know you've been to see us!
Dad: Yes I have, didn't you go to ring me and then remember you couldn't?
Me: Yes I did.
Me: Why didn't you leave a will, Dad? And why were you with Viv if you were so different?
Dad: I know it must have been so hard for you all afterwards.
Me: You've no idea!
Dad: I didn't think I was going to die so soon. Yes Meg, I should have done many things, especially leave a will. And Viv and I were in Love. We were different and maybe we might not have stayed together forever. But we needed each other. She has good heart Meg.
Me: I am glad to be your daughter Dad. And I miss you more than I can say. I think you know. Please come and visit in a dream soon and don't be late!
Dad: I Love you Meg.
Me: I Love you too.