Please note that due to the subject matter of this project (death/grief) some of the images on this blog might be disturbing.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cheating Death by Virginia Barratt

Some words written by my sister in the moments and days following our fathers death

my dad died today.
his head met the cement, blood pooling and drying, and there he lay, fighting/for/his life.
there was a nice lady (salty from her tourist day) with towels all red
and the boy from the boats, max, i think,
saying "c'mon you old bastard, do what you do best, don't give up!"
(he was a cantankerous old man)
my sister was with him. he called out her name.
"get these people away!"
and "nonononononononono!"
the ambos had to restrain him cos he wouldn't have the oxygen on his face

(just that day, some hours earlier, i had been sitting in the dentist's chair, ripping the oxygen off my own face...

he didn't want life at any cost.

it feels empty. this life without him.

i search for his energetic other.
i wish he would visit.
i try to reach him through the photo on the wall.
it's a great photo -
dad looking at a seal on a rocky outcrop
the seal looking back at him
each regarding the other, dad with the everpresent cigarette (until 70 at any rate).
it's like he might find there the answer to the question that has been bugging him for his whole entire damned life...

dad loved rocks.

francesca sent me a message last night:
"he's eternal" she said
"like the rock walls he built."
dry stone walls forever, from his cotswolds days...
see the long lines of them loping across english fields.

see my dad, a small baby in his arms, perched on just such a wall, another country, another time.

see the long lines of them reinvented with extra sweat in the tropics.
there's nothing beauteous about these raw walls, but they are so very beautiful.
they're labors of necessity, these rough hewn levees,
built to retain life
and stave off death.

so there they are. eternity. entropy and my dad. facing off.
no backing down.
i inherited a bit of that from my dad.
cheating death was a point of honor with him.
he had no love for grace and age, and gracefully ageing.
would not accept. would not.

so the cement was something of a shock.

all day cakes arrive
behind tentative knocks on the door.
and things made with eggs
accompanied by faces twisted with sadness.
who are they?

the boat boys.
mr main roads.
the man who rowed across the bay for coffee every day.
the bartender.
the chemist.
the waitress.
the girls from reception.
the book keeper.
kids i do not recognise, calling him "grandad".

i feel like i didn't know my dad at all
and yet that i was the only one who knew him.

i carry his photos around with me.
it's a comfort.
such a handsome man
smiling out from behind curved glass
with the perfect quiff
and plump lips a match for my own

and it has to be said -
since the refrain that has been sung for us innumerable times is
"you two... are too much alike... ' -

it has to be said
that he made me in his own image.
but i'm only half the man he was.
oh daddy daddy.
father, you made me what i am/not

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