I recently posted on my old school page for anyone who would like to write a blog as a guest writer. How delighted I was to receive a reply from Sara. I loved the piece that she had already written on her ‘Blink of an Eye’ Facebook Page. A page that she set up as her way of expressing her grief over the loss of her father. As she is due to return to Qatar very shortly, it sort of felt fitting that I set aside my prepared blog and went with Sara’s instead. I will leave the telling to her .....
Fingers crossed for no obstacles, tomorrow will see us fly to Corfu for our first family holiday as a family of 4. In addition Bone will join us and we will get to see friends of my dads who live there all year through, it will be packed with fun, laughter and memories. On the one hand I am full of excitement, excited to take Jack to a place we all hold so dear, to see him on the beach and splashing in the pool with his big brother, who he already idolises, and to make lots of new memories that include him. On the other hand, part of me is full of trepidation. Visiting Corfu and seeing all the places and people who are so familiar to me through countless holidays with my dad will be another huge step in the grieving process for me. Outside of Qatar and the UK, Corfu is the place that holds the most memories of happy times spent with my dad from my childhood, adolescence and later as a mum.
My dad was the person that introduced me to extreme sports…. well at least sports that are quite extreme for a 7 year old such as paragliding and scuba diving. That, together with flying out of a donut being ragged around the sea at top speed and almost drowning under a banana boat at 9 years old were the catalysts that later led me to choosing to throw myself off bridges and out of planes, across glaciers and down canyons when I reached 18.
As a teenager it was the place he escorted me and my girls to on our first girls holiday at 17. He and the other parents were confident in us going there at such a young age as they knew we would be well looked after by all the amazing people my dad had befriended there over the years. On our second holiday he joined us in the second week of our 4 week stay. He let us go alone for the first week on the proviso that under no circumstances did we hire a scooter to see the island….. when he arrived the following week of course we all greeted him on our scooters, I am sure he was completely unsurprised knowing how independent and strong willed a bunch of girls from Reddish were. He spent most of those holidays clearing up our bar tabs and treating us to meals, all the while moaning but secretly loving every minute.
When Oliver came along he could not wait to get us there to show off his precious grandson and new son-in-law. At the end of every evening him and Oliver would have an ice-cream using the spends Uncle Bone had given them both to share the treat. He always paid for a boat for us to go sailing round the caves for the day and it is in this way that we plan to spread his ashes using a bio-degradable water urn I have purchased for such a special cargo.
Having had our trip cancelled in late May we have made the decision that this newly booked trip is not the time to do this, we will wait until next year when Nancy and her family can join us and we can do things properly. In a way I think it has worked out for the best. I think spreading his ashes and getting to grips with him not being there all in the same trip may have been a little overwhelming and so doing things this way is probably for the best. He is in no rush and I know he knows we will get him there eventually.
During the lockdown Oliver and I completed a COVID19 diary for his memory box which is full of things related to this strange time in our lives. One of the questions in the booklet was, “What would you most like to do when lockdown ends?” and Oliver’s answer was, “Go to Corfu”. He has been very fortunate in his little life to have already visited many different places around the globe but almost all of his holiday memories he talks about refer to Corfu….he is definitely his Grandad’s grandson. Oliver has been such a little star during this testing time: being in lockdown so soon after having a little brother and the death of his granddad together with the absence of his dad for much of that time, he couldn’t have made me prouder in the way he has dealt with it all. The fact we can take him on his long awaited trip to Corfu makes me extremely happy to be able to do it for, and with him.
I have read many heart warming stories and blogs of people that have travelled during the last few weeks, I have also read many comments surrounding those trips from people who have disagreed with the travellers decision. My thoughts on it all are ‘each to their own’ but with Ben needing to travel often with his job and us travelling regularly between our 2 homes we can not afford to be afraid to travel. Ben and I thought long and hard about this trip and for us the pro’s outweighed the cons and so we will go ahead and enjoy our time together.
We have learnt the hard way that life is for living and there is no time like the present. This time last year we were in Disneyland Paris with my dad and I am thankful every day that we went ahead with that trip when we did, we have such precious memories from that time. People often put off such extravagant holidays because ‘the children are too young’ or ‘the money could be spent knocking more off the mortgage’. I have never been one to say no if there is even the slightest possibility of saying yes but now, more than ever, I find myself encouraging others to take the opportunities they may otherwise overlook.
Neither Ben nor I have a pension due to working overseas for much of our adult life and so we are currently looking into how we can rectify this through property investment. This is not something we will rush into because whilst we know we do need to plan for our future we need it to be a plan that enhances our family life now and not when the boys have grown up and left home and no longer want to make those memories with us so regularly. We have zero interest in working to pay off a mortgage in record time, that when all is said and done, if anything happens to us it will be paid off by our life insurance but that time and those memories for us and the boys will never be able to be replaced.
What happened on that day in October was unthinkable but it taught us to live life to the full now and not spend our present planning for a future that is so uncertain.
Corfu here we come….. and Derk, we know you’ll be with us in spirit!
it's Dee again - with a huge thank you to Sarah for letting me share her wonderfully personal and heartfelt words. May your journey back to Qatar be a good onw. May you spend many hours remembering your Dad with so much love; replaying the happy times you spent together as well as sharing these with your sons. Take care. Dee.
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