|Three fathers, two grandfathers|
I have always celebrated having my dad, a dad whom I was very close to, whom I could always depend on when things didn't go my way, I was always a real daddy's girl. When I married Rob and moved to Hertfordshire from Lancashire, I was a long way from my own father, but I was lucky enough to gain a father in law through my marriage. I always saw my father in law as father number two, so for a long time in my life, I had two wonderful fathers.
One of the hardest parts of my illness was having to tell my mum and dad about it when they were dealing with so much themselves already. At first we shielded them from the worst and played my illness down a little and then when we had a roller coaster year after my diagnosis, we were forced to explain more as it looked as if I was going downhill fast and we felt they needed to be prepared rather than shocked should I not make it through. After much deliberation, we decided to tell dad when it came to me going on the transplant list purely because we felt he needed to be prepared.
He hadn't really taken on the seriousness of it all until then, probably because we played it down where we could and he was shocked outright when we came to tell him about the transplant and there was no easy way to do it. Selfishly I needed my dad's support more than any other time in my life at that moment, but he was really over and beyond it in his own anguish to be able to cope with it well and I was just sorry I'd had to burden him even more. I was also sorry that I couldn't step in and help and support my dad more during his illness, but the worst part of his illness coincided with mine unfortunately and living over two hundred miles away exacerbated the situation for us all. He couldn't come and see me when I was really ill and at times I couldn't get to him when he was really ill.
It always surprises me how much we come to expect of our parents and how much we need them, whatever the age we are.
Fortunately during the last year of his illness, I managed to become a bit more stable in my illness and I managed to get back to Lancashire to visit when I was able and well enough. The last time I saw my dad, he pressed a little box into my hand. It contained a silver cross and disc on a silver chain. The disc is engraved with The Lord's Prayer and and the Soldier's Doxology. My dad explained it had belonged to my grandfather, who had worn it all through his time in the army and during the Battle of the Somme, which he managed to survive. My grandfather, although not a deeply religious man had worn it in faith to keep him safe and see him through the war. My dad was not a religious man at all, but wanted me to have it, both because of its sentimental value and in the hope if I keep it with me, it may keep me safe too.
I have packed the cross and its prayer and all the hope that comes with it into my transplant bag, the bag that I have to have ready and waiting should I get my transplant call; I reckon if it got my grandfather through the Battle of the Somme, then it will be a good thing to have with me when I have to go through transplant.