Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Dad has Wings

So here it goes. Feeling in a muddle this morning and not in the mood to write or indeed do the housework, I grabbed a cup of tea and flicked on the TV. . .to indulge in a little bit of This Morning.

I am now in tears...

...because what I didn't expect when I switched on the television just now was to be transported back to my four-year-old self - to the moment I'd been told that my dad had died in a traffic accident.

It all came flooding back and I am now sat at the laptop with my fingers tripping over themselves, trying to pour out all the words I can, but not really knowing what I want to say. The sense of childhood disbelief, and the desparate longing for it not to be true. The thoughts that perhaps he had just run away, or had simply forgotten his way home are as fresh as they once were. Anything to see Daddy again.

But he didn't come back.

And after he'd gone, there were the tears.

My mother's tears and her sobbing. Why couldn't I make her better? Why couldn't I make her smile again?

I wanted her to be happy. I wanted us all to be happy, her, me and my little sister. But most of all I wanted Daddy to come home.

But he was never coming home.


That's what death meant.

The one thing that defeats hope!

And then there was school, where everyone else had a daddy, who did daddy things on birthdays, Christmas and just normal everyday occurences like visiting the playground.

So what's a 40 year old woman doing, getting upset over something that happened 36 years ago?

You'd think that after all this time, I'd have got over it wouldn't you? I know a death is hard to take, but we're talking decades of having lived with it.

But maybe I have never really got over my grief. I still miss my dad. I missed him when I was growing up. I missed him at my wedding and I miss him being a grandfather to our small children. I have a step dad but a step dad is different.

And I dread the same thing happening to our small family.

But the tears that are flooding over my laptop today are not just tears of sadness. They are also tears of hope, because when I switched on the television this morning, the most wonderful woman was being interviewed, Jude Coupland, who two years ago lost her partner and father to her four children. Another family who had to cope with childhood bereavement.

Nobody bereaved in such a way can know how to deal with things, but Jude's story is highly uplifting. She was so inspired by the wonderful way in which her children dealt with the news and spoke openly about their daddy after his death, that she has written a book that can now help other families.

Called My Dad has Wings, it is full of gorgeous illustrations that can't help but raise a smile and a chuckle, the kind of things that a child needs to lift their spirits when dealing with the tough times.

So if you know of anyone who has experienced a sudden loss of a parent in the family, please tell them about this book. It can be found at And it's not just for little children...I think I know a big kid who might find it useful too.


Caren Kennedy said...

Thanks so much for writing this. I know just the person who needs such a book.

The Dotterel said...

Oh, that's too lap-tops a-wash with tears now. I've never had to deal with such a thing, but have a very sensitive daddy's girl who's terrified of something like that happening. And so we live with the fear almost every day. For once, Shakespeare got it wrong. It isn't cowards who die a thousand times before their deaths but little girsl who love their dads.

21st Century Mummy said...

Hi Caren - thank you. I hope it will be of help. I wish I'd had the book as a little girl. All best wishes to your friend who's in need. x

Hi must be hard, confronting such fears. It is why I have never told my children what happened to my daddy. I have a step dad who they assume is my father and have never asked questions. One day, they will know the truth but only when we're past all the milestones of age and even then, when I am ready to tell them, which is a while longer yet. Big hugs to a daddy's girl from someone who will always be a daddy's girl, no matter what. x

headless said...

Hey! Not fair! You leave me hanging without substantive post for a while, then I see you pop up in my feed reader when I'm not having the best of days and think "at last, someone here who normally makes me at least smile!" and then... whack...!

Seriously tho 21CM, good post, thanks. Made me all teary and I'm well'ard :)

For some reason, it made me remember leaving my then 3 month-old daughter's mum a couple of years ago after nearly 10 years together. I guess it made/makes me sad that she'll never have the relationship with me that I had always thought I would have with my kids. Luckily I still get to see her often, so I know it's not the same situation. Don't even know why I'm going on about it here either. Must go and get my own blog... In the meantime, I need to go and hide in the bog for a few minutes until my eyes are less red.

21st Century Mummy said...

Hello Headless (come here, giss a hug)...sorry to have left you on the edge of your seat only to arrive back with a big 'un. Hope your eyes have dried up now and that you've seen that little girl of yours and given her a huge cuddle. No matter what your situation is, you'll be on her pedestal right until the time when you disapprove of her boyfriends...and of course you'll disapprove even if they're the best thing since sliced bread... Now as for blogging, come on, what are you're waiting for. It's great therapy! If I didn't have a blog I would have been calling This Morning's helpline and crying down the phone to agony aunt Denise. :-D x

A Modern Mother said...

Have a good cry 21st Century Mummy. And thanks for the book recommendation.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Ok that's 3 laptops awash with tears now. I'm so sorry you lost your Daddy so young. It must have been awful. My Dad lost his own father when he was four and I know he's never really dealt with it. I might get that book for him. Hugs.

lunarossa said...

I'm crying with you right now over my keyboard, although I really hope you're feeling better by now. Losing my father would be more than devastating for me. We risked to lose him some years ago and it was a nightmare. I do not think i'd manage to read that book, although it sounds lovely. I'd be crying all the time. Thanks for this. Ciao. Antonella

family affairs said...

What a sad post - so sorry you lost him so young. Of course you would still be upset - we miss people at different times of our lives for lots of different reasons and I'm sure you would have wanted him to see you with your children. Lx

nixdminx said...

I agree with family affairs - and nice to meet you via the Carnival. You're very brave and kind to share x

Coding Mamma (Tasha) said...

Thank you for sharing that. I lost my father fairly recently and that was horrible, but to do so at such a young age must have been especially difficult.

And thank you for the link.

Dulwich Divorcee said...

So sorry to hear this, but hope it must be some sort of comfort that you can write about it so poignantly. DD x

Tawny said...

You cry away, i don't think you ever truly get over any loss. so if you need to flood your laptop, you do it!

21st Century Mummy said...

A big hello to you all. Thank you so much for your support. It's very rare that I crumple back to that little girl, but when I do the only thing for it is to let it all out.

A huge welcome to Family Affairs, Nixdminx, Coding Mama, Dulwich Divorcee and Tawny. Thank you so much for dropping by and leaving your kind words. It really is appreciated very much.

Tasha I'm so sorry to hear about your Dad. I feel it is just as hard losing a parent later in life. There are more memories to cry over. I hope time helps heal in a way that it has done for me.

And Dulwich Divorcee, you're right. Having written about truly helped. Somehow just letting the words out makes it all easier. Lovely to meet you the other day.

Jo - do tell your dad he's not the only one who doesn't know how to deal with such stuff. I wonder if today's therapy society makes a difference. In a way I hope I will never know.

Hugs to you all. I'll be back on a much brighter note. :-D xxx