My Dad …

My Dad celebrated his 80th birthday two days ago.

It only seems yesterday when I was looking forward to seeing my Dad come through the door of our bungalow, where I grew up.  I didn’t see him much during the working week, as he was always away, but I treasured the weekends, as he would take me and my brother up to the golf course or to the squash courts and teach us both how to play. He used to kick a ball around with us and when I was still young I learnt he had once been a professional footballer and qualified football coach.  He played for Leyton Orient in the 1950’s when he was in his early twenties and he completed his national service whilst going through training as a footballer.

My Dad on National ServiceAfter some disappointments in his footballing career, he moved into the rather cutthroat world of sales, and got involved in the selling of oscilloscopes, state of the art ones at the time.  He found he was good at sales, not by being pushy, but by being persistent and developing long term relationships with his customers.  He moved around a few companies, Hellerman Deutsch, Sourieau and then in the early seventies he moved to a small company based in Swindon called Raychem.  This is where he hit his stride, and was involved in selling specialist cabling to the aerospace and marine and oil industries.  He excelled in this role and the company grew from a small offshoot of the American firm to being a hugely successful branch of the business.  He ran sales projects relating to Concorde, Harrier Jump Jets, Tornado Multi-Role Combat Aircraft, Challenger Tanks amongst others, he became greatly respected and very successful.  He recruited and mentored a large sales team who to this day remember him with fondness and respect.My Dad looking his suavest

Whenever people ask me who my heroes are, it’s an easy answer. “My Dad” is my simple and immediate reply.  Oh, I have other’s, but my Dad is the person who taught me the most important lessons in life, not by preaching to me, but simply by living his life in the right way. He acted with consideration and politeness to everyone, but never expecting a free ride or hand-outs. Through his hard work he showed me that it is actually better to give than to receive, because it enriches your life so much more to give yourself fully to every endeavour.  He taught me through his actions that we don’t “have rights”, but we are privileged to live in this country and as a result we have responsibilities to treat everyone with dignity and fairness. He taught me to never judge other people by the way they look or they way they sound, or to judge people based upon what other people say about them.

He detested gossip. He viewed wealthy people not as greedy, nor snooty, they were just good at making and keeping money, otherwise they’re were the same as he was. I cannot recall him ‘moaning’ or ‘complaining’ about the state of the nation, merely being thankful that he had the opportunity to live and work in a country that was not wracked by famine, drought or extreme poverty.

He never  criticised people for making decisions.  He showed me there is no “they”, there are only people who make decisions and those decisions are often made with the best intentions even if they result in bad consequences.  He was slow to criticise, quick to praise.  He was a true gentleman in every sense of the word.

My Mum and Dad with my oldest son Chris

    My Dad retired at 53 years old and went work for himself successfully as a consultant for over 20 years. He even got me work in the IT industry when I really needed the money. He was unbelievably amazing at working with people.  I don’t ever recall him raising his voice in anger. I’m sure he did, but I don’t recall. He worked tirelessly to provide for our family and to do the best he could in his career, so that he might never have to worry about money in his old age.
    My Dad celebrated his 80th birthday two days ago. Yet he knew nothing about it.
    Last March he phoned me up to wish me happy 51st Birthday,that was probably the last meaningful conversation I ever had with him.  Since then, severe dementia has taken him to a place which I cannot imagine and pray I will never go. This year, he does not even know me, doesn’t know his grandchildren, doesn’t know his wife, my Mum, to whom he has been married nearly 60 years.
    I sat with a stranger, as he blew out his 8 candles, not knowing why and barely mustering the strength to do so it seemed.  I thought there an then, that my Dad is gone, there is only a body existing that looks like the man I knew and loved, because the essence that made him the person he was has gone.   Every now and again he may say something, a recollection of the glory days of his sales career, a reference to a meeting, a cabling system, a person. But it’s like the last embers of a fire, just flickering away, occasionally flaring up as the wind blows.
      The thing that annoys me more than anything when I visit him, is the way that he is treated and talked to. The carers are trying their best, but he is talked to like a child, treated like a simpleton, they did not know this man as I knew him, how could they?

Final Selfie, Me and My Dad

    There are many ways in which people die or age. Cancer, heart attack, accident. Some are drawn out and painful, some quick and painless. Having now experienced first hand the effects of dementia, I find it hard to imagine a worse way to go. Slowly and gradually day by day entering into a world of confusion, unable to understand the most basic of communications, and worst of all, having the person you are stripped away from you, so that you cease to be the person you have been all your life and become alien to your very closest loved ones.
    My Mum and Dad met at school. They were childhood sweethearts and have been together for nearly 70 years. My Mum is a ‘tough old bird’ as they say.  But I know she is broken hearted, the dreams of a happy, long and well-deserved old-age suddenly gone. She crys, I cry, I’m sure my brother cries too.  But I’m not writing this for any sympathy, I’m writing this for two reasons. Firstly in memory of my hero, My Dad, who lives on for me in my mind, and secondly to ask you who read this to remember to treat all people as you would wish to be treated, because one day there, but for the grace of God, go you.
    Cheers
    Dave Mc
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About davemcmahon81
Software Developer & Architect, User Group Leader, Speaker, Writer, Blogger, Occasional Guitarist, Man-made Global Warming Sceptic, Climate Change Believer, General Optimist but most of all proud Husband and Dad ...

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