Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Greatest Man That Ever Lived

My Father - My Hero
 Twelve years ago today, I was sat at the hospital bedside of my father, Peter Francis Lagrue. He was on a life support machine, having developed Septic Shock sometime after being admitted to hospital with food poisoning a day or so earlier. The life support machine was basically keeping him alive - there were two tubes coming out of his nose and one out of the corner of his mouth, and I remember thinking how horribly large they were and how uncomfortable they must be for my father. Of course he didn't feel a thing as he was unconscious.
He had been I'll off an on for the past couple of years really. Nothing too major - colds mainly - but he never seemed to shake them completely. I remember him saying to me about six weeks before he died that he was just tired of being ill all the time.

While I was there at the hospital, the decision was made to turn off his life support. He was not breathing on his own, and it was only the machine keeping him alive. As I sat by his bedside, watching his heartbeat get gradually slower and slower, I said to him that I knew he was tired, and that if he didn't want to wake up then that was fine. But I also told him that as far as I was concerned, his job as my father wasn't over and that I still needed him, needed his advice and counsel.
But he needed to sleep, so when his heartbeats stopped I kissed him on the forehead, told him I loved him, and said goodbye.

A few years back, I saw my father in a dream - as clear as if he was stood before me in the flesh. In the dream, he walked round the corner like nothing had happened. But when he tried his key in the front door of our house, it wouldn't work. I remember him asking me why his key didn't work, and all I could say was "but you're dead" over and over. I woke up from that dream at both ends of the emotional spectrum; I was crying my heart out because I missed him so - but at the same time had a massive smile on my face because I had seen him again.

The older members of my extended family (cousins, aunts etc.) have often said how much I am similar to my father. Not so much in looks (although I am tall like he was), but more in my sense of humour. Those of you who know me, and my sense of humour are only seeing a pale shadow in comparison to my father. His sense of humour was just a silly at times, but also much more reserved and clever. My father was an amzing story and joke teller. As children my brother and sister and I could not help but hang on his every word - even if we had heard this particular joke before.

For a long time, our father practically raised me and my brother and sister single handedly, as our mum was suffering terribly with Depression. Although we never noticed at the time (I certainly didn't), looking back I have more memories as a child of dad being there than mum. I do have memories of mum also, but not as many.

Incendentaly, I'm now referring to my father as "dad" from now on. To change half way through might be grammatically incorrect, but I don't care.

So, Dad worked (he was a teacher at a school for children with learning difficulties) full time, then came home and cooked and cleaned etc.  And he did all that plus did his best to support and love mum who was really not well at times. I don't know if I could have the strength - both physical and mental - to do that.

Dad never hit us (well he never hit me - hopefully he beat seven pounds of crap out of my brother and sister, they derserved it probably), and I can't remember him getting angry even. But he was always there. He had the most horrendous legs - covered in bruises and cuts from where the pupils at his school hacked chunks out of him when they played football. Let's face it, if you struggle to understand the basic curriculum, you are hardly going to be able to make a well timed tackle.

Like me, my dad was a writer. Unlike me, he was good at it. He won a local writing competition with a poem he wrote about the day the school he worked at took some pupils on a trip to london. At one point, several pupils got on a tube train - and before any teachers could get on the doors closed and off they went. Luckily they got off at the next station and waited for the teachers and the rest of the pupils to catch up with them.

Also like me, dad didn't learn to drive until later in life - at the age of 60 in his case. So throughout my childhood, Dad would take his three childen across London on the tube whenever visiting his mum or brothers and sisters. And typically, at one stage in her early life, my sister was afraid of escalators. So my father had to somehow get three small children up (or down) an escalator single handed. I guess it's a bit like that riddle where you have a fox, a chicken and some corn that you have to get across a river - but you can only take one thing at a time. You can't leave the chicken and the fox together, and you can't leave the chicken and corn together. It was that sort of set up. And yet he did it - at least once a month for two or three years.

I miss my dad very much. Not just because I can't see him anymore, but also because I know he would have loved the people that I have loved, and I would have loved him to meet the friends I have made. I also wish he could see the life that I have now - because it is due to him that I am the person I am. Everything good about me, comes from him and my mum.

And I know he does see me - I believe he is looking down on me, seeing my life. He is the smile on my face in the morning sun, the beating of my heart when I fall in love, the acceptance of my mistakes when I fail, and the joy I feel in the company of my family and friends.

Twelve years have gone by so very very fast, but I would give up the rest of my life for just one more second with him.

I love you Dad xxx

1 comment:

  1. Larry that is just the most beautiful post. You have made me cry. Having my Dad so seriously ill last year, I can only begin to understand how difficult it was for you then and how much you miss him.
    He would be very proud of the lovely person that you are