Thursday 19th July 2012 – The results.

At six in the evening, my father rang to tell me it was terminal lung cancer.

I cannot even explain the emotions I felt. Anger, fear, sadness were the most obvious.

Shock was probably the clearest feeling. Without any warning I would have to prepare myself for a range of emotions to follow. My life had been turned upside down and everything I had been working towards, the chance to build a relatively normal relationship with him was about to be forgotten. I knew the next few months would be difficult. Not only dealing with that thought of him dying but also the realisation that I may never get the answers or apologies I wanted from him.

I cried when he told me. Who wouldn’t? He was still my father and I just couldn’t fathom his absence from my life. Hope was always there, albeit foolishly.

Wednesday 18th July 2012 – The phone call.

My father called me that afternoon as I made my way to meet a friend for dinner. It was two days since we had last spoken and I was wary when answering the phone. We were not back to having regular contact and I was worried that getting in touch on the 16th was the wrong decision.

As I was on the bus, he told me he had been rushed to hospital the previous night. My heart sank. My memories of him being in hospital had never been good. I began to worry of what he may expect from me.

He said it was serious and again my heart dropped. Now I had to deal with the fact that it wasn’t a prostate problem or a torn ligament, my father may actually be seriously ill. It was a lot to take in so quickly. The doctors at the hospital, after numerous tests, had come to the conclusion that his suffering was either Tuberculosis or Lung Cancer. Both sounded horrific and both petrified me. More tests were needed to determine what it actually was. As I took in the magnitude of the situation, I asked him how he got to the hospital. He explained how he had called an ambulance in the night when realising he could not breathe.

I could not believe it. Three years back when I had my Asthma attack, he refused to call me an ambulance! My life was clearly not as important as his.

He began listing orders:

  • I was to come the next day and bring him a set of clothes including underwear
  • He needed all his bank cards
  • I had to bring his mobile phone
  • David or I needed to check the house to make sure it was okay.

Many other things were said but I had stopped listening. I did not want this role he was forcing on me. I had not talked to him for two weeks because he had told me never to speak to him again. He condemned me as a daughter and now he expected me to take care of him and the house, that it all gets forgotten just because he is ill. Is that selfish? Is that evil? Yes, it probably is but I was working so hard to break free, to cut all the emotional ties and feel secure and strong. This was the worst thing that could’ve happened.

I told him it would be impossible to come the next day. He said he would’ve asked my sister but she wouldn’t return from Norfolk until Friday. I had to do it. Of course, I wasn’t surprised she knew his state before me. I barely knew anything about my father any more. I reminded him that I had a job to do and that it was a very important week at work. He muttered angrily down the phone, scolding me for being so insensitive. I told him I would come on Friday too as I was working a half day. It was just about enough to pacify him.

Monday 16th July 2012 – Shock.

I did not speak to my father for two weeks after our altercation in the car so I decided to ring him to see how he was. Two weeks was a long time for me to stay out of his life. It took a lot of courage to call but it was the right thing to do.

He did not bring up the previous incident in our phone call. Again, he seemed quite pleasant on the phone. I could not fall into his kindness trap again so I remained on my guard. He took me by surprise when he told me that due to his ill condition that week, he had been unable to go on a planned holiday to Norfolk with my sister and her family. Shocked could not even amount to the way I felt by his news. I thought they were building back their relationship, I assumed it would take her longer than two years to welcome him back so quickly into the arms of the people that once detested him so much. Her hate for him was once so clear, she even punished me for my choice to live with him all those years ago and I could not comprehend how she could so easily forget. But after a little thought, it made sense. Neither of them could cope alone, they desperately needed each other to feel secure.

He continued to say his COPD had worsened and how the doctors were all useless, shoving him to one side. I felt sorry for him, he did not deserve it, and as much as I hated the man I never wished him the same suffering he wished me. He told me to visit soon and I agreed to do so, even if I had no intention on keeping that promise.

Little did I know that I’d be seeing him much sooner than I thought.

Next Tuesday.

A week today will be one year since the beginning of my horrific ending between my relationship with my father. This summer will be gruelling as things are still quite raw and as much as I have escaped his hold, the result of his control and mental torture still lingers inside me. 

I will be blogging each moment of my journey last year on every day that led to the end.

I hope you will all continue to read and share my experience by my side.

This will be an emotional look back and challenging to relive the memories of last year. However, it is a journey I need to take.

July 1st 2012.

This date will forever stay in my mind.

After getting married at the end of May last year, the contact between my father and I had decreased. It was deliberate as I wanted to set firm rules in our relationship in place. The 30th of June had been my best friend’s hen party and I had stayed over at her house in Essex. Another friend had given me a ride back to London. My father and I had talked the previous weekend and I mentioned what was happening. He offered to pick me up from my friend’s flat in London as it was a distance from where I actually lived. I was wary. It wasn’t often that my father wanted to help me out especially without condition. I should have anticipated trouble but like a fool I accepted his offer. After all, it was rare to receive kindness and a part of me still longed for that from him.

On July 1st 2012, my father picked me up from my friend’s flat. I made sure I was ready for him, it was a mistake to ever keep that man waiting. It was a sweltering hot day and as well as having a rather large, self-inflicted hangover, I was also very tired. I was looking forward to getting home. As it was also a Sunday, I needed to get myself organised for work the following day.

In the car my father didn’t ask me about the party he rarely took any interest in what I did. However as soon as we had set off, the trouble began. On the previous day, when he dropped me to my friend’s flat, he had mentioned about a DVD he wanted to watch but was unsure of how to use the player. I had explained how to do it to him and assumed that was the end of it. After all, he had used the home DVD player many times before. On the return journey he mentioned his problem again. I asked him if I could roll down the window, the car was like an oven. He refused and went on to tell me how ill he was (he’d been suffering with COPD, a chronic pulmonary disease for several years) and that the air would ignite his cough. I cannot say I had any empathy for him, I had been his sounding board for his complaints and ailments my whole life, I knew it was time to switch off. It may sound ruthless and cold but all he ever did was complain about life and to stay positive with someone like that can be a struggle. I allowed him to rant but I rarely paid attention.

Of course I had my concerns. Even though he repulsed me in many ways, the sound of his coughing worried me. I am not made of stone. I asked if he was okay.

“What do you care?” was his pleasant response.

I remained silent, it made sense to.

As his coughing became progressively violent, I told him to take a sip of water. He laughed and replied,

“Be quiet if you have nothing useful to say!”

I was immediately scared. His voice had deepened and the volume had increased. I felt anxious and nauseous. I forgot how much he loved to attack me in the car. It was the perfect place – no escape.

“Before I drop you back, you are coming home with me to set up the DVD.” he stated.

I faced him. I did not want to go there. I spent most of my time avoiding going back there. I certainly did not want to be alone there with him. My silence began to annoy him.

“It won’t take long; just show me how to do it. It is very important that I watch this video, do you understand?”

I didn’t understand. There were other people he could ask. The old feelings of entrapment and suffocation began to appear. I could not breathe.

“Did you hear me? We’ll go home, you can sort that out and then I’ll take you for a nice lunch”.

Now it was lunch too! What next?

“Daddy……………” I began tensely, “I’m really tired, I’ve got a terrible headache. Can I give you the instructions over the phone when I get back, that way you can learn how to do it yourself?”

There was no easy way to say ‘No’. There was no certain way of saying it that would appease him. Of course, he was instantly infuriated by my ridiculous request and once again after several years, the car was the place for him to lose all patience with me and leave me fearing for my life.

“You do not want to do anything for anyone else! You are so selfish, so mean. I never want to speak to you again! I cannot believe you are my daughter!” he screamed.

Tears streamed down my cheeks uncontrollably. Nothing had changed, he was still the same man and I was foolish to believe otherwise. I rolled down my window ignoring his previous order and inhaled the cool air. As soon as we arrived at my apartment, I got out of the car, slammed the door and didn’t look back.

The next time we spoke would be the start of the journey that changed our lives altogether.