On the morning of Saturday 10th August I got the call from my mum telling me that my dad had passed away. After a month of grief, disbelief, travelling home for the funeral and back again straight into work- I have to say I feel a bit whip-lashed. There will come a time when I’ll write about the effects on me, maybe even give my experience or advice for other people who’ve lost someone while they’re living away.
I can safely say though that now isn’t the right time for that.
The only thing that I can muster, for those who were unable to attend the service and for family and friends who found comfort in it, is the reading that my sister and I wrote for the service, read amazingly by my dad’s best mate.
When we’ve been asked what we would miss most about our dad, we struggled to answer, because it’s absolutely everything. We’ll miss talking to him, singing with him, being lectured by him, dancing with him, cooking with him, going to the football, the pictures, climbing mountains or going to inappropriate plays. But if it needs summing up, the one thing we’ll miss the most is his company, ’cause it was second to none. Even a cup of coffee and a catch up with our dad was eventful and precious.
Both of us were privileged to be close to our dad. For Rebecca, she saw our dad on a regular basis. And in June he crossed oceans and continents to visit me, living and working in Japan, for my birthday.
During that trip we visited some shrines. We’re cultured like that.
At a shrine in Sakurajima I said I’d teach him how to pray.
Cutting me off as I said, So it’s clap clap bow, cla-
He smouldered, “I pray to no God”, smirked and teetered off to look at the active volcano.
Despite sounding like he’d been dragged out of a Gladiator film when he said it, he was honest.
Our dad bowed to nobody.
Why does a God need to bow? Even though he didn’t have a religious bone in his body, our dad had the traits of so many different deities.
He was Zeus;
Most people will know, he didn’t need a microphone for karaoke and thunderous cries of Sweet Caroline, Delilah or Love on the Rocks have been known to have shook the cobbles of Greece, Benidorm, or Princess Di’s in Tenerife.
He was Hercules;
Most people don’t know that he auditioned to be on the programme, Gladiators, failing to get through when he pressed the wrong button on the treadmill, flew off and did a somersault off the back.
He faught 30-year-olds in boxing matches at 50 in West Park and the Adelphi in Liverpool. He’s also been known to fight Satan disguised as a tree in Thatto Heath. He always challenged himself and made it his mission to face his fears. He had a fear of heights but didn’t let it stop him from doing a parachute jump, living on the 37th floor of an apartment building and being catapulted into the air by basically an elastic band.
He was Silenus, Greek God of beer,
Which he would down in record time before anyone else had started. He’d then insist on getting a wedge for everyone. If you were out with dad you’d have 3 drinks. A lager, a glass of champagne and a short. He was a generous soul and wanted everyone in his company to feel welcome.
He was Omoikane, Japanese God of wisdom and intelligence,
Who knew more about psychotherapy than anyone we ever met. Did he mention he’s one of the leading psychotherapists in Merseyside? When he was working as a RMN he was often referred to as the king of the CPNs, and of course he loved it. To me, he was the Atticus Finch of psychotherapy. He was the most hard working individual we’ve ever known and he was always being told to take more time for himself. God of wisdom, the man was right about more than we would ever admit.
When he was mad he was Sharabha,
The scariest and most powerful form of the Hindu God of destruction.
Halfway to school from Liverpool and forgot your tie? Didn’t have the right brand of milk in the shop? Did a dirty tackle against him in footy? Drove too slowly in front of him? Ran away to Eccleston Field? Even mum using the hoover when England were playing cricket in the West Indies thus causing them to lose the game- feel the wrath of Shrabha.
If he was running at you, lightening-fast blinking and bitten tongue- feel the wrath of Sharabha.
He was Maahes, Egyptian lion God of war and protection.
Anyone checking out his girls in the pub will be very familiar with this form. Like the tattoo on his arm our dad was a lion. He was fiercely protective of his pack and his company, ensuring everyone was safe and defending them when needed. This also applied to organising tables, seating arrangements and social events in places like Pontins, Butlins, holidays and pubs.
He’s our Mufasa, our Aslan, our Maahes.
Lastly, he was and is Brian.
Brian was a husband, father, brother, son, friend, therapist, teacher, learner, protector, advisor, athlete, fighter, hot-head, stress-head, baa-humbug, singer, dancer and joker. He was the most kind, loud, generous, infectious, positive happy soul who always thought about others and made it his mission to help them. He was the life and soul of anyone’s party. He certainly lived his life, but left it too soon.
Our father was always a God and Gods never die.
Catch up later pops. We will see you again, but not yet, not yet.
My time at home was tumultuous, heart-breaking and soul-warming all at once and the service held for my dad was beautiful, even though at the time I felt quite numb to everything. I’m stung with the feeling that nothing, no elegy or service will ever capture the existence of my dad as his existence was in excess. I suppose then that there’s comfort in the fact that he transcends it all. The man that he was, I know he’d quite enjoy everyone’s struggle and failings to squeeze his life into a neat little box or label.
For Mum and Beck,
“What is elegy but the attempt
To rebreathe life
Into what that gone one once was