Saturday, 28 August 2010

My Hero

Watching a Channel 4 programme recently I noticed a Derren Brown trailer that finished with the line "What would you do to be the hero in your own life". It got me thinking and I realised that I didn't want to replace the hero in my life.

I'm sure that most people will be familiar with the Mike and the Mechanics song, the Living Years.

If your not, it's about a man who doesn't get to tell his dad exactly what he thought of him before he died. I decided not to fall into that trap and fairly recently told my dad he was my hero. It was a sort of grudging acknowledgment in the uncommunicative way that we communicate. I hadn't had a drink as I was driving but the moment seemed right. I'd been having a bit of trouble work wise and I told him that I had realised that looking after my family was the most important thing and that he'd taught me that lesson.

As is usual in our conversations we end up being self deprecating and unable to accept each others compliments but we both knew that we'd meant it.

My dad is my hero for many reasons but the most significant time in my life has taught me the biggest lesson. My mum died when I was 15 and my brother was 12. It was a few months before I took my O' Levels. I remember the morning she died I was woken to be told the news around half past two.

I had a paper round at the time and the night before she had died I had asked my friend to do my round. I said my mum wasn't too good but the truth was I was actually going to an extra O' level class. The next morning it had snowed heavily overnight and walking through the crisp unblemished blanket of white I was numb. I opened the shop door and my best friend was at the counter, packing his paper bag. he asked how my mum was. You know that effect in films where a room seems to become 100 yards longer. that seemed to happen to me. How do you say the right words when you are 15?

I told them my mum had died in the night and my best friend consoled me and said how he had realised things were bad when i had asked him to cover for me the night before. The guilt in that lie I told still haunts me. My mum was terminally ill, yet I used that as an excuse to go to extra lessons (and I didn't really understand how ill she was until I got home from the lessons).

My dad worked in a factory making, well making stuff. It used to be quite popular back then but it seems to show how long ago all this was. He was a shift worker and after a period of mourning he eventually went back to work. My grandma (another hero) and my auntie (both from my mums side of the family) used to come round to do the washing and do some cooking. Initially my dad worked two shifts but once I turned 16 a couple of months after my mum had died, he felt that he could then return to working nights.

We bought a microwave oven and he sometimes brought the ready meals back from the canteen at work because they were easy to reheat. But eventually we got into a routine. Wednesday night was lamb chop night and dad would cook them when he could and we would eat them at tea time, with or without him.

His biggest sacrifice for me was in May that year. Liverpool had reached the FA Cup Final and it would be the first time that Liverpool and Everton had met in the FA Cup Final. Moreover, if Liverpool won, it would mean that they would win the League and Cup double, a feat that had only been achieved twice before that century. I had been to a couple of matches but didn't qualify for a cup final ticket. My dad was a season ticket holder and therefore did get a cup final ticket. He let me have his ticket and he stayed at home with my brother, watching on the telly.He expected me to turn up at the club he had gone to, to celebrate when we got back but I thought I should go home (I was only 16) and look after my brother.

Looking back now, I can see how much the loss of my mum must have hit him, but his number one priority through it all was to make sure that my brother and I were looked after as well as could be done. Of course we had tremendous support from our family, but his strength and determination to look after us still resonates now.

My brother and I always seem to end up talking about him when we've had a drink, and I'm glad that I've at last told him, in my own way, how I feel. If you've got something to say to someone special, make sure you do it while you can.

I was going to write about my 5 top heroes, but as I wrote about my dad I realised that the word hero is over used. The other people I was going to write about are people I admire, but are they my heroes? I am sure I will write about them in the future, but they don't deserve to stand shoulder to shoulder with my dad.

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