Any day that’s given to a special occasion can be difficult for some people for a number of reasons. It evokes strong, powerful emotions and memories. Bringing up the past and almost making us relive it all once again.

Fathers day is just one of those days. We are reminded of our relationships with our own fathers and our childhood. This time for me is an odd thing. My father passed away twenty years ago from an asthma attack. It was traumatic witnessing someone who seemed to be on the whole relatively healthy one day, and then next you are trying to resuscitate him on the kitchen floor.

Time is a great healer. It wasn’t good at all in the beginning, but I had some great friends who were patient and understanding. So I don’t get upset now, when I think about the time when he passed, but I remember the things that he liked and take good memories with me. Each year on occasions like fathers day I listen to two songs that were his favourite.

The first one is by Andrew Lloyd-Webber taken from a requiem he wrote for when his father died. The second is from album I used to play all the time as a teenager.


Friends who have known me a long time would know what it was like when my father passed away in 1994. It doesn’t seem like it was twenty years ago this year. A mixture of disbelief and confusion was emotions that I can remember feeling at the time.

His death was a shock. He wasn’t suffering from an illness that was terminal. He had been to work the day before and nothing seemed to be untoward. His asthma though had been troubling him for years and really taken hold on the year that he passed.

He died of an asthma attack in the kitchen of the family home. It was early morning and he had been struggling to breathe. I called an ambulance as six month previously he had suffered an attack that had left him in intensive care for some time and then his continued recuperation in hospital.

This time no such period happened. He died within a matter of minutes in front of mum and myself. A stark and appalling thing to witness. Paramedics had laid him out on the bed ready for collection by the undertaker.

He would have been 77 today had he survived. Time is a healer of grief. It took years for me to talk about it without bursting into tears. But here I am twenty years later and I often ask myself what he would have thought about the world and things going on around him. He would have been miserable and cantankerous that I am sure. He wouldn’t have wanted anyone to make a fuss over him and would have hated any ceremony that had been dedicated solely for him.

A gentle remembrance now and again. A nod to his existence in the world is what I give him.

the barefoot tree

Still grumpy

Gari Wellingham

UK-based musical theatre geek previously living with a brain tumour!