My father passed away in mid-March.
It wasn't expected. He'd not been well, but we were expecting the next thing to be another visit to hospital, not death.
When it came time for the funeral, I wasn't able to give a eulogy. In that situation nobody wants to listen to someone babble on, and I couldn't think of a short way to sum up what I wanted to say. For that matter I wasn't able to even put down what I was feeling.
I loved him, but he could be bloody difficult at times. He had a habit of keeping things close to his chest rather than sharing them. It's only while going through his papers that I found he was most likely pre-diabetic, for example, or that he'd applied for an assessment from the local council which would take months to come through. (That's a whole other rant.)
But that trait - that stubbornness - was also the saving of him. There were difficult times while I was growing up; he and Mum even separated for a few months. When he decided to let go of all that, though, he did it. Without any support, so far as I'm aware; without any help from others. He was able to turn his life around.
(I'm not saying that's a good way to do things, just that that's what he did!)
After that time, he worked, and worked hard. He'd regularly be on nights, working 12 hour shifts. We weren't flush with cash, exactly, but there was enough for what we wanted, and every so often he and Mum would buy something special, mostly for her - a plant she liked, a patio so they could sit out together.
Late last year he and Mum had moved to the same city my sister and I are in. The day of moving Mum was taken ill, and she's never actually lived in that bungalow. She's still ill; she won't get better; and that probably contributed to his death.
She would hate to know that. He accepted it - Mum was the centre of his world, even more so towards the end. He kept going, to the point of ruining his own health, to get her to a city where she could get better treatment.
Life isn't fair. They both worked hard, for many years, and at the time when they should have been able to relax and enjoy living near to their children and grand-children it was taken from them both. That makes me angry.
I do have regrets over the last few months.
We were meant to go on holiday with him in February, but had to make the difficult choice to cancel that. If I'd known then what I know now, though, then we'd have gone, come hell or high water.
We visited a lot for the first month or two, but we both have families too, and weren't able to keep that up. If we'd known we'd only have him until March, we'd have made sure to visit as often as we could.
I don't think he would have disagreed if I said we didn't always have much in common. Conversations didn't always flow, there wasn't always something to talk about. But I'd have called him every day, without fail, if I'd known.
Goodbye, Dad. I miss you.
And if you're reading this and you're lucky enough to still have your parent? Call them. See them. Spend time with them. Because you never know when it will be the last time.