Soon it will be father’s day and it keeps popping into my mind. It is only 6 days away now and usually by now I would be looking in the shops, looking at the cards, carefully choosing which one to buy.
I don’t like one that is too sloppy, or ones with a picture of golf clubs or racing cars on them. My dad was never into golf or racing cars.
Choosing a card is often very difficult when you are choosing it for someone you love, because you ‘know’ them. Their likes, their dislikes, their little idiosyncratic ways, so getting the right card, must reflect that, right?
Sometimes the right picture has the wrong verse and sometimes the right verse has the wrong picture, but still, I keep looking, if not in that shop then another and another until, I get the one that is ‘just right’. Like goldilocks with the porridge and the bed. It has to feel right.
The gift, was always easy….. Smokes, fags, ciggies, cigarettes; and money inside the card to buy more cigarettes, or scratch cards, where the excitement would be mighty if he only won 2 euro to get yet another scratch card and say ‘ah I might win the big one on that one’ and he would laugh.
The kids would usually give him scratch cards, but I would give him the ‘few bob’ to go buy more ciggies. Sure he’d been smoking most of his life, since he was 5 he said. Picking up his parent’s butts off the hearth and drawing in the toxic smoke, deep into his lungs till he coughed and spluttered and coughed some more. It wasn’t a deterrent, he kept going, till he got himself rightly hooked.
At 29 he collapsed with pneumonia and was taken to hospital. I was about 7 years old then. Gosh, that is 50 years ago! ‘’If you don’t quit smoking, you won’t see 40” the doctor had told him, but what did he know?
Ah, he tried quitting a few times, that I remember. He tried the pipe. The smell was nice, I remember that, it was a bit like smelling food cooking on a bar b q, you want to eat it and the smell of the pipe, would make me want to ‘taste’ it. I thought he looked funny, like Sherlock Holmes, puffing away on it. It didn’t last, gave him headaches he said. Back to the cigarettes it was then.
The doctor was wrong. He did see 40, and 50 and 60, 70, 80…… but at 81, I guess it was his time to go. He died 9 weeks ago, unexpectedly. He had got pneumonia again, like he did last year also and the year before. This time though, it was his heart that gave up on him while he was in hospital. We were expecting him to come home again, after being pumped with antibiotics and steroids for the pneumonia and make another full recovery, but it wasn’t to be. For him I am glad it was quick. He always said he’d like a nice quick ‘belt in the chest’ when it was his time, and so his wish was granted.
As I type this, a photograph of him, smiling at me, I will wish him peace and blessings and tell him, that I miss him, and that I am glad the doctor got it wrong when he was 29.
So this year, there will be no browsing or buying a father’s day card. No cigarettes or money to be given. No scratch cards to excitedly scratch in anticipation of ‘the big one’. So instead of cigarettes, I’ll light a candle for him and watch the smoke as it flickers up to the heavens…….