Saturday, 24 October 2009

My dad.

Every four weeks finds me making the now familiar trip up to Rossendale to visit my dad. He is now in his 91st year.
I have already written of his move into the home where he now is a resident. He is well settled and looks so much more like his old self, than in the 18 months before when he was still struggling on in his own house.
This last year has seen major changes once more in his life, and as always he has accepted them with great fortitude and the limitations under which he now finds himself.
He decided a few months ago, that he would sell the place where he had lived for over 40 years. It was not an easy decision for him to take. And quite emotional for us all.
This has meant a change in my routine when I am there, as it is now necessary to sort through the accumulated books, letters, files, furniture, and so on, to make decisions as to their distribution.
I never thought that we would decide to finally bring dad's clock here with us, (as he'd told Stephen it was his if he wanted it! And Stephen wrote a blog about it)
One of dad's neighbours, Ian, took good care of it, coming in each week to wind it up. And repairing it when it went wrong. It does have a loud "tick" but I have to say as it is on the wall in our back room, it is a reminder of both dad, and the home in which he lived.

One of the things that has amazed me as I have been looking at dad's books and files, is just how much he has written.
He always wanted to be a journalist when he was younger, but he had to leave the Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School and, as his own dad Fred, put it, "Tha con get thiself a proper job......."
so he ended up in local government, before the WW2 started.
But it didn't stop him from writing..................
He was a compulsive writer.
He wrote stories which were published in "The Bedside Guardian," and had short stories read out on what was then the Home Service. Now Radio 4.
This being after the war, which interrupted his life in a big way, as it did to all other people at the time.
I can remember when I was very young sitting by the radio one evening to listen to one of the stories being read.
It was before I went to the very same grammar school and we moved to the address now for sale.
He wrote letters. When I went to college I received one a week. And these would not be short pithy ones! They were always descriptive and interesting.
It carried on after we got married and moved to Portsmouth, in 1974.( And on to Sutton Coldfield in 1981). One letter a week, unless we were visiting dad and mum, or vice versa. They only stopped around 2003, when he began to have problems with his sight.
He wrote to my sister when she moved to London, then Halesowen and finally Knaresborough, where she lives now.
It didn't matter that we all had telephones, he loved the written word.
We were not the only recipients of his letters.......
He wrote to people in Ireland, South Africa, and Canada, not to mention hundreds of letters to our local, paper, "The Rossendale Free Press"
When his sight eventually made it impossible for him, people would stop him and say they missed his letters in the paper.
He was blind in his left eye, due to glaucoma, before the next major problem reared its head. He began to have Age Related Macular Degeneration, and although he has limited peripheral vision, he is now registered blind and partially sighted. Although to look at him it is not obvious.
And he was also an avid reader, instilling in me a love of Shakespeare, and poetry, to mention but a few........ but he had to forgo his favourite pastime of having a book in his hand.
This he accepted and moved on to talking books and the radio. Having a thirst still for spoken words of literature.
He has not complained about his circumstances, and we have been proud of him, all of us, as a family. (We know he is not a saint! And I don't write this looking through rose tinted lenses!)
He has a determination about him which has kept him going and he deserves to be looked after in the best possible way. All the carers at the home love him to bits, and we tell them we love him too.
So I found myself having a conversation all about Beirut, and Lebanon, at my last visit. He has a huge Dictionary, which also serves as an encyclopaedia, and it is a ton weight to lift!!
"Get the Dictionary out," he will say, and so we do. Then we go off into a journey of history, geography, definitions of words, and back again. I learned a lot about Beirut in a short time!! Timelord being in Lebanon for a few days whilst I was visiting dad.
Sometimes I read to him, from the Lancashire dialect stories he has collected down the years. He used to belong to the Lancashire Authors Association and he wrote short stories for Radio Blackburn, (now Radio Lancashire). I recently found all the scripts! Which I am copying for the family.
A man of letters then, truly.
We hope he makes his 100th birthday and gets his telegram from the Queen!!