I knock, and after waiting for some time, a stocky man with sleepy eyes comes to the door. He looks at me as if I'm a stranger, raising his eyebrows in question.

“Is Andy home?” I ask.

“Andy?” The man scratches his head and frowns. “Andy who?”

“Andy Elvis,” I say. “Andy, your son.”

The man's face comes alive. He smiles. “Oh that Andy! Yes, come in.”

Later, I tell this story to Andy saying, “I think for a moment your dad forgot he was your father.”

“I think he often forgets about me,” says Andy. “He’s given my best jumper to the dog.”

The next time I am invited over to Andy’s home, I understand what he means. Andy’s dad is sitting on the sofa, a big mug of tea in one hand, a square of chocolate in the other, and snuggled up next to him is the dog, dressed in Andy’s best jumper.

“Come on in,” greets Andy’s dad, smiling. Today he knows who I am. He even recognises his own son.  “Join me. I’m watching a movie.”

I glance at the TV. Zulu warriors are marching across the screen. We find a seat, and settle down. Tea, chocolate and a Zulu movie in front of the fire: Andy’s dad’s idea of the perfect way to spend a lazy cold afternoon.

Sometimes Andy grumbles a little about his dad forgetting his name and seeming to prefer the dog to him.

“He loves you very much,” I reassure Andy. “He was probably half-asleep when I knocked on the door that day. He works hard, you know.”  Andy agrees. His dad is a shift worker, sleeping odd hours. I probably woke him up from a deep sleep. Yes, we can forgive him the occasional slip of his memory.

“But he gave my best jumper to the dog,” says Andy, shaking his head in disbelief. I haven’t an answer to that one.

I think Andy’s dad liked me. Every time Andy took me out on a date, I noticed his father would slip him some money. “Go and enjoy yourselves!” he’d say. “Treat your girl to something nice.” He always made sure we were well looked after.

Andy’s mother wasn’t so sure about me. Maybe she thought I was too bold and independent, even a little aggressive for her taste. Besides I wasn’t Catholic. But there wasn’t much she could do about me marrying Andy. I had both Andy and his dad on my side. We arranged our wedding, and on Andy’s dad’s birthday we became husband and wife.

Two weeks later, we were on a plane to Australia. Before we left England, Andy’s dad hugged us both tightly and he slipped Andy some extra money: “Take care of each other.”

We'd only been in Sydney a few days when a note was pushed under our front door, by a friend of a friend. Not having a connected phone, some important news got passed along the grapevine to us, in an unconventional way.

Your father died. Phone home.

Those stark words stared at us. We read and reread them, trying unsuccessfully to make sense of the tiny note. 

What happened? Dad went shopping on a Friday morning as usual, and collapsed in the bank, because of an undiagnosed heart condition. By the time the ambulance arrived, he was dead.

Two weeks… that’s all the daughter-in-law-father-in-law time we had. We didn’t get to know each other as members of the same family. Dad only really knew me as Andy’s girl, someone who dropped in on Saturday afternoons and shared tea and chocolate while watching Zulu on TV.

Over the years, I've often thought about the tragedy of losing a father so prematurely. We have missed Dad, and he would have loved his grandchildren. He would have kept a close eye on them, looking after them, just as he always looked after Andy and me.

A few years ago we realised Dad has been looking after us and our children. His influence on our lives didn't end with his death. By working hard and investing prudently while he was alive, he ensured that Mum was well provided for, even though he departed so unexpectedly. And through Mum, after her death, he also provided for our family. Without Dad's help, we’d still be moving from one rental house to another, while wishing all the time we could afford a home of our own.

We never know how our lives will influence our loved ones, even after we have departed. Our legacy could live on and on. 

Andy and I are sitting on the sofa together watching a movie. Gathered around us are our children, the grandchildren Dad never knew. We sip tea and eat chocolate as we watch, not Zulu, but Tangled. I look around at the home that I love, our very own home. And I think about the last time we saw Dad. He hugged us tightly and said, “Look after each other.” Andy and his girl are still doing that. 

And so is he.


This post is linked to the Memoir Monday hop at Chris' blog, Campfires and Cleats. Please visit for more memoir stories.




I did it! This is my last post for the A-Z April blogging challenge. 


I would like to thank everyone for reading so many posts in one month. I'm sure that wasn't  an easy task. I really appreciated  all the wonderful encouraging comments. Thank you!

I would love to give a special huge thank you to my beautiful sister, Vicky. I wrote 26 posts and she wrote 31 comments. Don't you think that deserves a number one commenter award? I will have to make one!

So much writing in one month... I think I've run out of stories. It might be quiet around here for a time...unless of course another 'great' idea appears unexpectedly out of nowhere. Writing is like that. I love how that happens!

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  1. Oh, I hope for that next great idea out of nowhere (think I'll sneak and pray for you to have one tee-hee). I'll miss your A-Z posts, to which I have really looked forward daily. This one was so poignant and moving. A beautiful and perfect way to wrap things up, in my humble estimation.

    Now for the numbers 1 through.... say, a hundred...???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nancy,

      You're supposed to say, "Phew! No more posts. Now for some rest." If you continue to say such kind words I might just get a bit too big for my boots!

      I have really enjoyed chatting with you in the comments box as the challenge has progressed. I must thank you too for inspiring me with some blog post ideas. The ladybug eyelashes and Bob Blogosphere posts belong to you.

      I will write 1-100 blog challenge posts, if you will join me and write some too! If you don't like this idea, you could join me in the A-Z challenge next year. In fact, I think a whole group of us should do the challenge together. What do you think?

      Delete
  2. Oh Sue,

    You have such a way of turning sad experiences into something deep and beautiful. You have a real gift.

    Like Nancy, I've enjoyed this series so much. I've always seen you as a great writer but you've grown and become an even greater writer. And, you've inspired me to learn more about writing myself.

    Thank you for entertaining us and inspiring us to deeper reflection. And, thank you for the huge thank you! It's easy to comment on posts that generate so many interesting thoughts and ideas.

    BTW, this was a beautiful tribute to Andy's dad. I remember him as a lovely, gentle man and it's wonderful to think of him still looking after you all, after he died.

    And, lastly - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!! Love you!!!!!!! xoxoxoxoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vicky,

      This is comment number 31 (if I have counted up correctly). I knew you'd visit and yet again write a beautiful and encouraging comment. Thank you!

      I have really enjoyed writing these posts. I had to do some creative thinking to come up with suitable topics. I think the constant writing has been good for me. It's like the girls practising the piano every day. I'm sure the same thing happens when you draw regularly. I've had lots of opportunity to explore and experiment. I'm glad you think I've done okay. I was a bit afraid of running out of steam and ideas. Your encouragement made such a difference. Thank you!

      Andy's dad was a gentle man. When I was writing this I realised there is so much about him I don't know. Andy and I were talking about Dad on Anzac day. He was a paratrooper in the war, had medals and was highly respected, but he never spoke about those days, or marched in parades. I think that says a lot about the kind of person he was.

      Thank you for the birthday wishes! My! I owe you so many thank yous!

      Delete
  3. I agree what a beautiful way to look at such a loss. Bless you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lisa,

      Sometimes it takes a long time before we see the beauty in our losses. I've never written about Andy's dad before. I'm glad I did!

      Thank you so much for your comment. May God bless you!

      Delete
  4. Sue,
    What a beautiful reflection! How lovely and yet poignant.
    Oh, I'm so sad that Andy;s Dad passed so young. What a tragedy when that happens. My husband's Mom, too, died young...only 56.

    Thank you too, for taking the time t link to Mem monday! You truly have graced the hop with your words.

    I MUST get back to the A thru Zs that you wrote before I knew you! Not sure when, but I'll get there. What a great challenge. I can't wait for more! But take a much needed break.
    And is today your birthday?? Have a happy pone, friend!

    xoxoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chris,

      Thank you! It is hard to deal with unexpected deaths. The whole imagined future suddenly changes. I am sorry to hear you are familiar with this tragedy too.

      It is always my pleasure to link up with your memoir hop. It will give me an incentive to keep working on my memoir stories. It's the best hop I've seen around!

      It was my birthday yesterday. Thank you for your greetings! I sometimes write a birthday post, but this year I spared everyone my annual reflection on getting and looking older!

      God bless!

      Delete
  5. Oh Sue Elvis, now I so wish you wrote in Danish as we have 3 letters more at the end of the alphabet. It was a delicious task to read a post from you almost every day.
    It must have been hard on Andy having his father and mother living at the other side of the world, and then his father dying like that, with no warning at all ... and him so far away. As it is, you make even this sad happening into a nice, rounded story.
    Take a break if you need it, for your own sake, not our.

    Oh and happy birthday, now I know for whom the sun shines today ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uglemor,

      While I was running this morning, I had this crazy idea about doing the Danish Extension to my A-Z challenge. (Running provides good thinking time!) I'll do some research and see if I can write something. Thank you so much for your encouragement!

      When Andy's dad died, Andy didn't go home for the funeral. We were unemployed with little money and couldn't afford to return to England so soon after leaving it. I think that was difficult for Andy.

      "now I know for whom the sun shines today " That is such a lovely thought! I was queen for a day and really enjoyed my birthday. Thank you for your greetings!

      Delete
  6. You are a gifted writer, Sue. This post is a lovely tribute to your f-i-l, who is no doubt smiling down at the two of you and his wonderful crew of grandchildren :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beate,

      I am so pleased to see you here! Thank you for stopping by with your kind words. I have enjoyed this blogging challenge very much. It's given me lots of opportunity to experiment with words. Thank you for sharing my father in law story. I like the thought of Dad looking down on us and smiling. God bless!

      Delete
  7. Ah ha... Sue's a birthday girl??? Happy birthday! I wish you prayers, cake, laughs, surprises, and body butter (thanks to you, I've just ordered my own second jar of BB in a WEEK).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nancy,

      I love being the birthday girl. I bet you do too! Thank you for your prayers. I had a delicious chocolate birthday cake baked by Imogen, and lots of laughs and surprises, including yet another jar of body butter!!! You ordered 2 jars of BB in one week? Are you trying for sainthood the Sue Elvis way?

      Delete
  8. It's sad you didn't get more time with him, but lovely that you got to know him as well as you did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kellie,

      There are always things to be thankful for. Yes, I am glad I was able to know Dad well enough to be able to write something about him, to share with my children.

      Thank you so much for all your comments during this challenge. I have enjoyed hearing from you very much.

      Delete

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