My Da, Bob Hutton, died on 22nd April. It came as the most terrible shock I have ever experienced. I still cannot think or talk about it without crying. I think about it as the day I stopped and the world kept moving.
There is much to be grateful for. Just two days before he was taken into hospital I told him I was going to have a baby, due in November. He grinned a big grin. My Ma jumped up and down, and looking at her laughing he said. 'I never saw you do so much jumping!'. He kept smiling for the rest of the day. The next day we went for a short walk around the green. I held his arm, and he apologised for being slow. I told him not to, and we talked of everything and nothing as we wandered. He had fish and chips for lunch on the day he went into hospital. my brother and his family were visiting. He knew he wasn't well, but did not say anything. He went to bed in the afternoon for a snooze (unheard of). Later that night I would call an ambulance for him, and sit by his side, with my Ma, in intensive care. None of us thought it would be his last hospital visit. He had nine lives you see, and we had been to this place many times before. But, soon he lost consciousness, and two weeks later passed away.
Shortly after he died, I do not know how long, they read that list of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in Church: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control. I knew then it was a description of Da. He lived each of those gifts out every day of his life. He lived them when he went to work, he lived them when he came home, he lived them bringing up six children, he lived them laughing with friends. My Da always had time to listen to everyone. He never made assumptions, never generalised, never grouped people together with labels. Whenever anyone came to the house, even if they did look different (men with long hair, thousands of piercings, tattoos, alternative lifestyles, from far away, employed, unemployed) he would entertain, tell stories, laugh, joke and above all listen with gentleness to their story.
I am almost 6 months pregnant now, and still I feel that time has stopped still, that I am stuck and cannot move on. The one person I hold onto is my beautiful husband, who loves me, dare I say it (?), as much as my dear Da loves me. Ma came round today. Talking of Da she said, 'He always loved me so much. I was an angel in his sight, and everything I did was right. Unconditional his love was. Unconditional. The only thing I can do is have his pictures framed and hung. That reminds me of the way he saw the world.' We talked about how Da always spoke with gentleness to strangers, welcomed people, and thought about those he saw in the news as if he were among them. We agreed that was the way we would like to be, to try to be, just to honour his memory.
I've not thought much about the fact that myself and my husband are expecting a baby. Well, that's not entirely true. I have thought lots about practical things: money, buggies, car seats, nappies, maternity leave, work, child care. But, I have not thought much about the example I would like to set for our child, the model I would like them to have. I have been too caught up in work, on a treadmill that seemed as though it would never end. I wanted it that way, really. If I was busy I could not think about Da, I could imagine he was still at home with Ma and I just hadn't seen him in a while. But, you can't do that forever, and even if you try every now and then it brings you back with a horrid shock.
When I think about Da I realise I would like to show them the world as he saw it: full of beautiful landscapes to admire in wonder, people to love unconditionally with kindness and gentleness, patience to wait for all that is good in yourself and in others, generosity of spirit to listen to all those who pass your way, especially those who are different, faithfulness to God and to family, modesty to learn from life's experience, time to be awed by little things, like spiders webs and dickie-birds, and self control to be able to enjoy all things. If I could teach my child to see and live all that in the world I would be proud not only of him or her, but of my Da who taught me that was the best way to be; and, to have the determination to keep on working at it, especially when it seems hard.
Only my husband asked me how I was after Da died. Everyone else asked after my Ma. That is right and proper, as it is the job of us children to look after Ma now Da is not there. Now, people rarely ask how any of us are. For the record, I am not over it, and neither is my Ma, nor I imagine are any of my siblings. But, Da's legacy to us is strength shown through gentleness, and it is with those gifts that we will carry on. And maybe one day we'll catch the world up and join in again.