The loss I have most felt has been the loss of my father in 2012.
My mother had died suddenly in 1983 and while her death has had a numbing effect on me, the loss of my dad was much more pronounced.
This is so as I was his carer for the last years of his life. Once his health deteriorated, he became more and more dependent on me.
In 2007, I moved back home to live and to care for him. He was still as independent as he could be. He still drove his car, much to our horror as he was losing the sight in one of his eyes by then. In 2008, he suffered a slight stroke, but it was such that I quickly moved to sell his car and as a result be became dependent on me.
I found it hard for a while when my father would defer to me in decision making.
My dad had been a tough father in many ways. He had to work hard all his life, and as a builder, he had spent a large part of his retirement working on houses owned by myself, my brother and sister. That was his life working outside, and even as his ability to get around slowed down, he’d take himself off to the shed to do something.
One of the things we always loved about him was his way of keeping himself busy. One time he took all the tools he had, garden tools, spades, shoves and even the crow bars and painted them all green for no other reason than he found a tin of green paint and put it to use. We always knew what tools were ours if we ever took them a working bee.
As a grandfather, he was in his element. He mellowed with age, and his grandchildren flocked around him. He was always interested to hear of their successes as well as their trials and tribulations.
By the end of 2010 I was still working, and it was decided that he needed 24/7 care. Even though we had nurses coming in to assist him in different ways, he took to the nurses coming in to shower him a few times a week like a duck to water.
So, he was okay in going to a nursing home even though I felt as guilty as could be.
We were fortunate to find a nursing home that treated him so well, and he stayed there for 19 months before he died in 2012.
My dad never lost the use of his mind; each Saturday we would watch the races, and he’d have a few bets. Usually, he lost, but it was a fun way to put in the afternoon together.
In the end, pneumonia got him as it does so many old folk. It’s in no way a pleasant way to go, and I found it distressful watching him go that way.
On the day of his death, he was showered, I fed him his breakfast, a man came from the church and gave him Communion and, with everything in place, even a direction to me to have a bet on Saturday, he died peacefully.
I live in his house now, and it took me some time to take down everything that was my father. But over time I have let him go, I know he’d want me to be moving on with my life.