First of all, I want to thank everyone for all of your condolences and support this past couple of weeks. We have been moved and touched by all of the comments that we received from everyone near and far – from here at home, throughout the world, and going as far back as my primary school friends saying how they remember my Dad’s kindness.
I wish to thank The Peace Hospice for welcoming my Dad to the Day Care Centre every Wednesday, he made a lot of friends and enjoyed it immensely. He felt at ease when he was admitted and was grateful for the marvellous care he was given during his final week.
I wish to thank the carers who provided additional care for my Dad, without them it would have been even harder for my Mum and me to cope. They also did tremendously in keeping us all in good spirits. There was also the added bonus that they served as my third alarm clock in the morning.
I especially want to thank all of you, our family and friends for lending your love and support since my Dad was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in June 2011. I hope you cherished every moment you spent with him, I will never forget the precious times I had with him since his diagnosis.
I am so fortunate to have each and every one of you in my life right now.
However the greatest thanks should rightly be given to my Mum, for being a wonderful wife and mother and for creating a strong knit loving family. Mum devotedly cared for Dad, she made it possible for Dad to stay at home for as long as possible. It couldn’t have been easy and I salute her wholeheartedly for dedicating so much love, time and effort towards looking after Dad. I sincerely believe that the strong bond of love and devotion between my Mum and Dad had prolonged his life expectancy.
On the morning of Wednesday 13th September, I lost a father, a best friend and the biggest influence in my life. My father, Dick Johnson, was my inspiration for everything I ever accomplished in my young life. Along with Mum, Dad gave me unswerving support, strength, encouragement and love I needed to pursue all of my goals and dreams. I’m finding it difficult that I’ve lost my Dad at this stage of my life, when I could learn so much more from him. He is a hard act to follow, one which I hope to emulate to my own children.
I can proudly say he has left me a wealth of knowledge. It is often said that I have an old head on me, that was Dad instilling the sense of responsibility to me even at a very young age.
I also lost my best comedy partner; we were an unstoppable force at times, probably due to him letting me stay up with him to watch Vic & Bob as a kid. This resulted in us rubbing our thighs, channelling the amazing power of the handbag, having our little pinkie finger handshakes and of course reciting the line “You wouldn’t let it lie”. Silly little in-jokes we created like the mention of the name “Gary” would have us shouting it at the top of our voice, only we will ever know the origin of that. We were right nutters and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Likewise Dad passed on his tastes in music to me. We have numerous cassette tapes that I flicked through in the evening and fell asleep listening to. I’m not embarrassed to say I usually fell asleep to the love song tapes. He was also the reason for getting me obsessed with The Blues Brothers on a flight to the Philippines. We watched it together on the first run and I was subsequently delighted to watch it thrice more. At home in the UK, I eventually succumbed to going through a phase of harmonicas and on the hunt for a pork pie hat.
Dad also became a gig buddy, I took him to see The Who, U2, Simply Red, Kate Walsh, Aqualung and many other artists we develop a fondness for. We shared that feeling of being lost in the bliss of live music.
One wish of ours was granted, that he would live long enough to see the Olympics and Paralympics. We all sat together in awe of the opening ceremony, we felt proud to be British and that we had made it this far. Every time I listen to that music I will remember the marvelled expression on his face as the Beam engines appeared, chimney stacks were raised into the sky and those rings flew with such majesty. For the next few weeks, we cried together as gold medals were won by Team GB, our faces brimming with pride. It was then he reminded me of how proud he was of me, putting my mind at rest as that is all I’ve ever wanted to do for him.
Thankfully I had gone past my teenage woes, it gave me a chance to do all the above with him and more. I just hope to be able to share such moments with my future kids and for one recreate the times I sat in coffee shops with Dad, musing over the world as we read the paper or flicked through twitter on our devices. Simple stuff like this, that meant the world to me and I hope to him as well. One thing I’ve learnt is to appreciate the simple things in life and I thank him for that. If there is one wish I want to fulfil, then that is that his memory will live on through me.
Looking at our large display cabinet which is now covered by the sheer number of sympathy cards. We take comfort in the sympathetic words, they are the equivalent of big cuddles. A recurring theme among the messages we received: that many found it a privilege to have worked or even just met Dad. They found him so peaceful, so quiet and above all that he was a man with a quick wit and a willingness to give help when it was needed. The heartfelt messages brought many a tear, so comforting to know that they regarded my Dad as a perfect gentleman, loved and respected by many.
His adventurous attitude, his broad range of interests and his happy demeanour made him a wonderful person to know. He was patient, and generous with his time and affection, always there happy with a helping hand.
Like many of you out there, one thing will always have remained a mystery about Dad. I don’t know how many of you have ever had the fortune to, but I have never seen him clean shaven, without his trademark beard. In some ways I’m glad for this unblemished record, because without it, I wouldn’t have had to those special memories of rubbing up against it for the past 25 years.
My Dad left us with comforting words, letting us know he will always be near, watching over us. I’ve started working outside in the garden and questioning what would Dad do? I know he’ll be there to guide us all and see through the future milestones in our lives.
Heard rumours of Mark Lamarr making a comeback, maybe it’s just wishful thinking. Stumbling in during the wee small hours to find him playing the hidden gems, fond memories. Felt the sudden urge to dig this one out:
For good measure I can’t help but raise a glass to this next one. Oh yeah to the style, nothing’s changed it’s Shoreditch circa 2012.
In other news, I doth the cap of casual photographer for a friend’s wedding. Stunning day and plenty of laughs caught on camera, ohh and must go back to The Minnis in Kent for the gorgeous food. Highlights will eventually appear in my flickr feed, but for the moment here’s one of those shots that had me on my toes to catch.
Originally scribbled in my moleskine diary on 23rd May 2012 23:32
So it’s been a while since I last wrote some sort of diary. Hey I gave the old blog a good run mixed with music, but the problem is the ability to edit and procrastinate resulting in nothing getting past your filter. At least this way once the ink hits the paper there is no going back.
Yesterday I decided to go public about my Dad’s illness. I think internalising it for the past year has done me more harm than good. I’ve always been one to bottle things up as I don’t want to effect others and just want to get on with life. There just isn’t enough time. In the process I’ve probably nulled my emotions in fear of talking about MND causing a tear and I just wish to remain strong.
I had to speak out yesterday after the serious incompetence within the NHS. My main concern is my Dad getting the correct treatment and that future sufferers don’t have to go through the same pain and anguish. Especially when time is so short, I only hope things will get better and there will be some policy/procedure to avoid this.
The past couple of weeks have been, well how can I put it, turbulent roller coaster cliche-fest. I’d like to reverse a few things, mainly because they just weren’t me or my mind was in some other place. Anyhow it happened and hopefully didn’t put a halt to a friendship. Suppose I shouldn’t believe everything that’s said to me, anyway the moment has passed and I can look back with some fondness. I hope she feels the same way.
If anything it gave me a confidence boost at a time I particularly needed one.
Drinks at #notamassivetool last week gave me some unforgettable quotes. Mostly directed at me, resulting in the return of my alter ego from the old days of ‘The Fly’. On a side note I am in no way willing to be stamped as ‘The Ignition Man’. Nevertheless the words from a couple of delightful people meant I could believe again. Hey I’m cute :p
It’s hit midnight and I have managerial duties, ooh get me slipping that one in. Been an odd year, but making the best of it. The main thing that’s changed for me is life is too short, I just want to live life to the full now. Enjoy those quirky moments and just remember that the secret is yourself.
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Please sponsor my Major Series 10km run in aid of my Dad and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.