As Fathers’ Day approached this week, another promotion arrived — this time a text from my mobile provider: “Fancy winning your Dad something on us this Fathers’ Day?”
As a father of four (soon to be five), I enjoy the kids getting excited about it, giving me cards or little gifts they’ve made at school — but Fathers’ Day will now forever remain bittersweet for me.
We lost Dad last year, after several years of on-and-off illness. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2011, was operated on and underwent treatment.
For the next four years he lived normally, and, apart from some dietary changes, a concoction of pills and some regular hospital check-ups, all was fine.
Then, in 2015, we received the news we had all dreaded — the cancer was back and it had spread. There was no hope.
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He refused the palliative treatment that would have no doubt ended his life sooner, and instead he got on with life and spent time with his family and friends — he even flew in a Spitfire in October 2015, a lifelong dream of his, having worked on them as an engineer while training during his RAF years.
Over the next few months, he gradually got weaker and slower, but was still walking around and visiting family up until two weeks before he died — he never gave in.
In March 2016, his health had declined considerably and we were told there wasn’t long left, possibly days. I went to see him and, between his naps, we shared photos of our trip and the kids, and talked.
He died the next day, on the evening of 2 April 2016, surrounded by his family — a day and experience I will never forget. The next morning, as we woke up to the realisation of what had happened, a Spitfire flew over the house. He was 79.
This will be the second Fathers’ Day without him, and it will be especially difficult this year as it falls on the same day as my mum’s birthday.
So: “Fancy winning your Dad something on us this Father’s Day?” You can see how that kind of careless marketing irks me.
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I see my dad every day — I see him in myself, in my children, and in everything that goes on in and around my life. I see him because, quite simply, none of this would have existed without him, and for that I will be forever grateful.
For me, he’s already a winner. I just wish his victory lap could have gone on for longer.
My second to youngest daughter and I have a little thing we do — I tell her she’s the best “Ixy” (her name is Ixia) and she tells me I’m her best Dada.
Thank you and happy Fathers’ day, Brian Edmund Percival Kneen.
You were my best Dada.