My Dad – and Father’s Day.
Actually, my Dad was never that keen on Father’s Day. Invented by the Americans (so he said) and far too commercial. He said he wouldn’t be worried whether he got a card, a present or nothing at all. Although, secretly I suspect he WOULD have minded. Because people who say they don’t care out loud often do care very much.
Sadly, my Father passed away several years ago now. His death was untimely and far too soon; he was only 61. He went into hospital for a heart bypass because, in the words of the hospital, he was fit and healthy except for his heart and although it wasn’t something he needed urgently, it would give him more energy. He came home after what appeared to be a successful operation. And then it all went wrong. He’d been complaining of stomach cramps and the hospital had told him it was probably constipation. The morning after he came home, Mum found him collapsed on the floor. She called for an ambulance and he was taken back to Papworth where he waited for the consultant (it was a Sunday).
Mum was frantic. A trained nurse, she was convinced he needed a drip. When the consultant arrived the diagnosis was that it was nothing at all to do with his heart. He appeared to have perforated an ulcer.
Back in the Ambulance, he was blue-lighted to Addenbrookes where he joined a very long queue of patients needing urgent surgery. There had been a pile-up on the M11. It took hours before he was in theatre and, he was there for what seemed like a lifetime to me (I’d driven up from London to stay with Mum). It wasn’t good news at all, he had indeed perforated an ulcer and the operation to help him, while successful, had been traumatic. My father was admitted to Intensive Care and ventilated (that’s what you see on Casualty when the patient is comatose, surrounded by screens and monitors).
There he stayed. The hospital tried to bring him out of what had been a medically induced coma, but failed. They kept trying. Months went by. Eventually some new equipment arrived from The States – a special bed that literally turned him upside-down. And, he woke.
He couldn’t sit up, let alone walk. He was no longer critical, but he was vulnerable – he’d contracted MRSA during his long stay in Intensive Care. And, he couldn’t talk. A month or so later he was sitting up, talking and although rather depressed (he’d been told he’d never walk again) he was at least alive. He’d lost a lot of weight though so the hospital decided to feed him through a nasal tube. The feeding tube flooded and my Dad contracted pneumonia. Weakened by eight months of hospitalisation he stood little chance. He died in his sleep with both Mum and I by his side.
I’m crying as I write this. My mother never really recovered. She blamed herself for not noticing the large quantities of Gaviscon he was taking. She blamed herself for not having been there when the feed flooded. And, she was embittered by her loss, my Father was really not ready to die and she wasn’t ready to be alone.
I have no-one to send a Father’s Day card to. And, my in-box is full of ‘great ideas’ for Father’s Day gifts. I can’t help but read them and I can’t help but feel sad when I do. So, this year, I’m going to pick something for my Father from the wealth of possibilities and imagine that I can send my Father’s Day present to him.
Firstly, I’m sending him some of the beautiful new Lismore whiskey glasses from Waterford Crystal. I had no idea that different styles of whiskey glasses were used depending on how you like your drink. It does explain why my father had so many!
I still have his collection of crystal glasses. I remember him showing me how to wash them up carefully. A bowl of very hot water, a dash of fairy liquid and a clean dishcloth. A sink with a running tap, as hot as possible. A pure linen glass cloth. Wash the glasses in the soapy water. Rinse them under the running tap, one by one. And, dry them, polish them with the linen glass cloth. Cotton doesn’t work – it leave lint. Leaving them to drain will result in water marks. I seldom use his crystal, preferring glasses that I can pop in the dishwasher. But they do make a difference. Heavy to pick up, they ring when you tap them gently. They add a touch of class.
Obviously, you can’t give glasses without the bottle of Whisky to match. Although Waterford is an Irish brand, my Father was Scottish. So, rather than Irish Whiskey, I’m sending him some Scotch Whisky. He liked Single Malts so the new Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve would be perfect. It pays pays tribute to the uniquely smooth and fruity style the founder George Smith first envisioned in 1824. Born in 1792, on a small hillside farm in Glenlivet, George Smith became the first distiller in the Highlands to obtain a license for distillation and, in 1824, he established The Glenlivet on what was once a farm distillery.
If your dad is still around, why not treat him? And if he’s not, well treat yourself and enjoy a wee dram while you remember him.
Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve is available from the Whisky Shop for £36
Waterford Crystal can be bought directly from the Waterford website or through quality retailers in the UK
Disclaimer: I haven’t been paid to write this post – I’ve just picked a couple of things that I really believe my Dad would have enjoyed