Twenty years have passed since my father died. It was July 22nd 1994. I remember it like it was yesterday. Strange thinking back to that time. I was never close to my dad and he wasn’t a one to show his feelings. He never told me he loved me or showed me physical affection. He was of a different generation that didn’t show their feelings. So we can allow them that fault and everything will be okay. It’s just that we have to deal with the bullshit afterwards.

I will never forget that my close friends were all on tenterhooks. Hoping that they wouldn’t say the wrong thing and putting their foot in it. No one did they were wonderful, patient and kind. Having to tell people was the worst thing about that time. It upset them. I think it was possible that they saw the hurt and pain on my face and knew that what had happened had be traumatic.

I learned a lot from that time. Don’t take your friends for granted and realise that time you have with your parents should be precious. Looking at the dreadful tragedy of flight MH17 and the literal grief that it has caused we should hold those who we love close and our parents closer still.

I am not scared of death; others and my own. It is a natural part of our life. People are frightened of grief as it is an isolating experience. I would never advise people to try and contain or stifle it. If it’s there let it out.

So will raise a glass or ten to Dad and have the memories to reflect.



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!