I lost my dad to Leukaemia this week. He was diagnosed in December last year and was initially given only 2-5 months to live. He managed to fight on for 10, even though his last few months were spent coping with all the cumulative conditions that were taking their toll on him.
We all knew this moment was coming but that still cannot prepare you for when it does. Luckily we were all there when he passed and it was peaceful so we have that to be thankful for.
The prospect of losing my father had made me slightly philosophical lately about the ways that he has influenced me as a person, and also how he has influenced my two brothers.
My dad was fairly old fashioned, working hard for his family but also spending a lot of his time pursuing his own interests, while my mum raised us. He never backed down from a fight and was always very active in whatever he was involved in. He spent a lot of time on committees for the various organisations that he was involved in and tried a lot of different things, jobs and travelled a lot during his life.
My fondest memories of my dad was always when we were playing board games together. My dad liked to keep busy, so quite often the only way to spend decent time with him was playing cards or a boardgame. He was always happy to play board games with a slightly impatient and fidgety child with poor attention and would quite happily explain rules several times, or give advice on things we had missed. The games we played varied a great deal, from cribbage (a particular favourite of his) to monopoly and even Talisman and Space Hulk! He was never derisive of my hobbies and interests, even though many were and while was not full of false praise would do his best to support my hobby.
We shared a similar interest in reading as well, especially fantasy, sci-fi and historical dramas. I was a late reader, not really taking to it until I read the Hobbit when I was well over 10 years old. I remember talking to him about how much I enjoyed it and that I couldn't wait until my birthday to get my hands on the Lord of the Rings. Low and behold a copy was gifted to me a few week later, totally out of the blue and by surprise. It has a hand written message from my parents inside and remains one of my most prized possessions, even though its a bit worn and starting to fall apart. I have other copies of The Lord of the Rings, but that is the one that I always come back to and enjoy reading the most. As an adult I would read books and pass them on to my dad, and when he was finished we would discuss what we thought of them and their merits relative to other things we had read. Even during his illness I was still passing books across to him to read, so that we could discuss the various characters and themes in them during my visits.
My dad also always had unbuilt model kits lying around the house when I was younger. My oldest brother built a lot of model plains when he was younger, and my dad had a few kits lying about the house that he always insisted he was going to build when he was older and had more time. He also had a model railway layout in the loft, that I remember spending a lot of time playing with. Those kits never got built, as my dad was always looking at something new to do and upon his retirement he built a G scale model railway in the garden. There followed years of us discussing various model making materials and techniques as my dad tried to create something a bit different and we discussed the best use of materials and techniques.
I think my lifelong love of gaming stems from those happy times playing board games when I was younger, and the early exposure to my dads model making (intentioned rather than actual activity) cemented my love of model making and gaming. I still greatly enjoy gaming of all types, and although time is limited by work and other commitments I try and play at least once a week, and if not playing then I am always at least reading about games, or assembling and painting models.
When my kids came along they both developed a love of trains, and we all enjoyed family trips to Falkirk for the model railway show. My youngest Blair still loves trains and always asked to run a train around the garden when visiting my dad. He has a Hornby model railway gifted from my mum and dad one Christmas and we are looking forward to making a layout for it in honour of my dad and so he has something to remember him by.
|Me and my dad at my graduation in Dundee, 2010.|
There will be no gaming for a few weeks while we come to terms with this, but I'm sure I will be back to it soon enough, after all what better way to remember him than by continuing to do one of things that he had such in influence on.