Where the devil have I been? Yes, good question. I’ve been up down and all around this year and yet I still have that thought that I haven’t done anything.. An odd feeling, and apparently quite common. If my extensive research into asking my close friends is anything to go by.
The year started off fairly well, I was working at Sumo with some good people. While I was becoming a little disillusioned with my industry, I was supplementing this by working on the Youtube show, Popcorn, as well as doing a few shows for Hunted, The Interactive Horror Experience. Nice and fulfilling.
Then, as most of you know – tragedy struck. My father passed away rather suddenly and threw everything into chaos. In this situation, grief is pushed aside by the sheer shock of what happened as well as the magnitude of work that needs to be done after someone dies. There is a mountain of work, and unfortunately for me, I was the one that had to do it.
In between checking my phone to see when the last time I called him was (I don’t want to talk about it) and re-reading the text messages he’d haphazardly send (I’d taught him, but he’d forgotten how) I was tasked with talking to almost every single family member I had, several times a day as well as calling funeral homes, banks, superannuation boards, lawyers etc. Most people don’t realise the mess your life is in until you die and someone has to sleuth their way through your particulars. I’m kind of glad that frustration and anger took over, it gave me something to do.
I’d just three weeks previously quit my job at Sumo. There were a few reasons, but mostly because I felt stale there and didn’t really see much opportunity ongoing. Plus they’d moved to Bentley which severely reduced my ability to get things done during my lunch hour. Ha.
Jobless with a funeral to plan. The rest of the family tried to help, but essentially couldn’t, or just didn’t – I don’t know, it was a blessing really, being the control freak that I am. Attempts made were messed up which left me re-doing things the night before anyway. Thank goodness for Dave and his mother, Nola for helping with the memorial, and my friend Katherine – who drove all over the city the day before organising programs and flowers and of course, bringing me wine and KFC when I needed it most.
The day itself went as well as can be expected. I spoke at the church. Dad’s partner of 9 years didn’t attend. She’d spent the previous week and a half sending me nasty text messages about how I was ruining everything, I was a liar and she was feeling left out. She probably should have stopped hanging up on me every time I called her for the last 9 years, including the days after Dad died. Why she thought it was appropriate to do this to me is anyone’s guess. She wasn’t left out, but made absolutely clear that she wouldn’t be assisting with the funeral and then when advised of the details went mental at me. Yes, she’d been the one to find Dad sick and dying. I don’t think that gives you an excuse to be rude to his family, the family you’ve refused to meet. I met her for the first time, the day he died.
All during this, I couldn’t help thinking I had been meant to meet him for lunch that weekend, but I hadn’t heard from him. The odd feeling that you must call the person only to realise within seconds that you can’t is still shocking. Memories of chatting about favourite comedians (He loved Rowan Atkinson, Billy Connolly and David Thorne) and his fascination with modern magicians like David Blaine and Dynamo. Dad didn’t understand what I did at Sumo – he was convinced I worked for ASIO or something, he had been somewhat left behind by the digital age. I’d talk briefly about SEO or something funny that happened at work, and he’d show me a few tough cryptic crossword puzzle questions. He still bought The West and clipped the crossword, carried it in his pocket or bag in case of boredom.
A late adopter of Youtube, we’d sit in his favourite pub, Sassella’s and covertly show each other funny videos, or I’d show him my latest episode of Popcorn or a short film I’d done while having a few drinks and lunch. If we hadn’t seen each other in a while, it’d be a long lunch.
It all sounds very normal, and it was. Our modern relationship belied a childhood best forgotten in parts, but lots of fun in others. His fixation on alcohol was a sticking point. He’d turn to it if he was stressed out, or happy like so many do; however binges would go for days on end, not hours. As children and teenagers my siblings and I were sometimes ignored or upset or absent. Learning to just leave the house or lock ourselves away. Whatever demon or pain that drove this continued well into our adulthood, except it was more hidden (at least, to me) in the later years, as we weren’t around to see it. He’d apologised for all that had happened in my childhood some years ago, but you never forget how it makes you feel. I didn’t hold it against him, you either hold a grudge and have regrets or get on with your life and just enjoy the company while it lasts.
I’d much rather remember the times he’d come to my house and get distracted by how messy I live and would start doing dishes or tidying the yard. How when my cat died, he called me in tears trying to console me, or the times we would enjoy a meal and a drink and just talk.