I have been holding off writing this blog for a while because it never seemed to be the right time to do it and it's just shouting into the void anyway, so is therefore a bit pointless. As I have made a small commitment to sharing my thoughts on things from time to time, I suppose I have to keep going.
When I celebrated my birthday last month, I hit a milestone that has been on my mind for forty years. On that day, I had officially lived longer than my own father did. He never made his 52nd birthday. I did. That sounds a bit morbid and yes, I am a bit maudlin and reflective tonight - and a bit drunk - but it is still important to me to record that I consider this to be an achievement.
I was 12 when Dad died. He was 51. He always seemed to be on night shift. We didn't really see much of each other. I don't know if that makes it easier or more difficult to lose somebody. As a bereaved 12-year-old boy I was, of course, angry and selfish. How dare he smoke himself to death just when I was beginning to realise that I needed a father figure? And so on.
Years passed, as they tend to do. I'm not a spiritual person, I don't hold any beliefs that relate to what lies beyond this earthly form. I have been a father myself for 24 years and all that time, I have thought "if I die now, what residue of me remains?" and "how cheated will my children feel for the loss of their Dad?" Those are largely imponderables, but to give some kind of answer to the first one, I would urge my children not to keep me in a pot in a cupboard somewhere - look in a bloody mirror! Half of you, my children, is what I am. Enjoy that much, for what it's worth. Would they feel cheated? I hope not. I've been on my own kind of night shift, but never out of reach.
Not that I intend to go any time soon. I have what the technology has hinted might be my first son to look forward to. That's going to be an adventure and, when he's old enough to absorb my words of wisdom, I'll make sure that he knows to live longer than me. If we can keep it going, eventually someone in my family is going to be properly immortal.
So, Dad, there are a couple of places where memories hang in the air, but they are not the cold ground in which you lie. I only have bitter memories of that place and that day. But if you stand up near the cemetery wall, you can look down towards the river where we used to go. Or I can look in the mirror.