Guest blog by @amywaterhouse_
My boys, Jack and Lachlan, don't have any Granddads. It hurts me to think that they will miss out on all the "fun" Granddad-ish things that I got to do when I was little. Being fed chocolate in secret. Playing music together. Making up silly songs, and oh, the endless laughter. Granddads are great. It's not fair that my kids have to miss out.
Clint has never known his Dad. He was never around. It's kind of weird to think that he could live near us. Or, he might not even live in Perth anymore. He might not be alive anymore. Does Clint look like him? Do our kids look like him? We'll never know. Clint tried to make contact with him once, with no result. That's that, end of.
My Dad didn't live to meet any of his three grandkids. He would have adored them. I can picture him playing with them. Games like "Dr Tickle", where he would tickle them to the point where they couldn't catch their breath, and say "The only way to get Dr Tickle to stop, is to say STOP!" No-one can ever say "STOP" when they are laughing so hard that they can't breathe. He used to make me laugh so hard that I couldn't breathe. And my kids will never get to experience that joy.
He was such an outgoing guy. He would make friends with everyone he met, and would try and strike up conversations with randoms at the supermarket, or at the petrol station. Some would think he was "a weirdo" because he was too friendly - but he genuinely just wanted to have a chat.
He loved to smash out the beats on his drum set. He would turn our stereo up so loud, that the whole house shook, and kids from up and down our street would come over and watch him play. He used to set up soccer matches on our front lawn and invite anyone that dared challenge him, to a shootout. He would always beat the pants off us, strut up and down the "pitch" while doing an evil cackle, and take us out for icecream afterwards to make us feel better about losing.
It's hard to believe a person so bright and wonderful would be so deep and dark underneath it all. My Dad was clinically depressed, and it would consume him too soon.
He took his own life just over 5 years ago, in the early hours of October 28, 2010 - 5 days shy of his 50th birthday. As much as I wish I could erase it from my memory, I remember it all like it was yesterday.
My parents had split up almost 10 years prior, and I was the only one out of the 5 kids living with Dad at the time. It was a good arrangement. He was a very clean person, so the house was always neat and tidy, and I would cook for him. He liked when I made him curry, his favourite. The best curries, to him, were so hot that beads of sweat would gather on his forehead. What a weirdo.
That week, Dad had been "not very well" with the flu. He spent a lot of time asleep in bed, or laying on the couch. The day before he died, he asked me to call in sick for him, for the rest of the week, so he could get better. Of course I did it for him. I would do anything for him. His workplace sent their well-wishes and hoped he would be be better for the following Monday. As I hung up the phone. He thanked me. "You know Amy, you really are the best daughter a father could ever ask for." I thought at the time, that he must have been a little high off the antibiotics the doctor had given him. I now realise, this was his way of saying goodbye. "Aww.. Thanks Dad. You're ok too."
That night, Dad invited Clint and my siblings over for dinner. His last night, with all of us under the same roof. He planned it that way. I made a cracker of a stirfry, to which Dad said "Jeez, at least I know you'll always eat like Kings!" He cracked a tinny of Export (he always had questionable taste in beer), and offered Clint a drink, which he politely declined. Clint tells me he wishes he didn't say no, he realises that was Dads way of saying "Welcome to the family, mate. Take care of my daughter."
The next morning, I woke up to the sound of my dads phone ringing. It rang out a few times, until my phone rang. It was my Nan, asking me where Dad was. "Probably out for a run without his phone. I'll have a look around and get him to call you back."
Hudson, our family dog, was locked in the laundry. Weird, because he was strictly an outside dog. He was obviously busting for a wee, so I let him outside, turned the corner, and found my Dad.
I've never screamed at anyone, or anything so loud. Wishing that it would startle him enough to open his eyes, but in my heart I knew it was no use. He was gone.
The next few hours were a blur. A couple of frantic phone calls, multiple blazing sirens, and a heap of people I didn't know gathered around me, asking me questions that I didn't know the answers to. I just stared blankly at the floor, having not come to terms with my world being flipped upside down.
I stayed in my blank haze for two weeks. It was unlike anything I've experienced before. During the "newborn" phase, one still functions in order to tend to their child. I didn't function. I just lay on the couch at my mums house, staring into space. I never went back to Dads house, I had the fear that if I did, I would also end up revisiting that morning again. Within my haze were a million tears, people coming to visit but not knowing what to say, and a funeral at which I spoke, but can't remember a word I said. I was numb.
I was numb for a long time.
Death is a funny thing. Everyone looks for somebody to blame. Some even pointed the finger at me for not predicting the future and stopping Dad from ending it all that night. I've got enough brains to know that those accusations were ridiculous, and that there was nothing more I could do to change the fate he had already decided for himself. You never expect this sort of thing to happen to you. "Not my Dad. He was my first love. I was his first daughter. He's so much fun. He loves us. He would never leave us."
Five years or so later, I can't say that the wounds are completely healed. I don't think I will ever be able to say that they are. When I speak about it, or write about it, it all comes to a head again, and it still feels raw. There's too much that's left unanswered.
Why didn't he ask for help?
Why didn't he tell me/us how he was feeling?
Didn't he care about us? Didn't he want to watch us, his grandchildren, and maybe even his great-grandchildren live, learn and grow?
Why did he do this, knowing that I would find him, and have to live with the memory forever?
I've saw a psychologist a few times after Dad died. Googled "depression" and "suicide" til I was in tears trying to find the answers. The best I can come up with is this; of course he loved us. Of course he cared about us. He had reached the point of no intervention. His mind was made up. He was drowning in his own pain; that he hid from us, that he hid from the world - and he had convinced himself that the world would be a better place, without him and his eternal hurt. I have to keep telling myself these things. I have to tell myself he is at peace now.
You cannot draw positives out of such an intense negative - at least not straight away. I feel like I've changed from the experience. I value my relationships with the ones I love the most, above all things. I want to make sure they always know I love them, and that if they ever need help, an ear, a hug, or a shoulder, that I'm always here for them. Nobody should have to reach the point of feeling that there is no way to end their hurt, other than to end themselves.
I think of my Dad often, and how much I hate him for the fact that he's never going to meet my boys (or my niece). It sounds silly, but sometimes I swear that when they whip their little heads around and stare at me with their big, brown eyes, it's just like he's looking at me. They're my reminder of him. My reminder that a child wants to hold on to their parents for as long as they can. And my reminder that no matter how bad life gets me down, I have two little boys that would be torn up inside if I were gone.
Because I know how it feels.
If you want to read more from Amy, click here.
Behind the blog...
‘The Mummysomniac’ is a lifestyle, motherhood and most recently, pregnancy blog, founded in 2015 by Kirsty McKenzie. She’s a mum of three, blogging about the highs and lows of motherhood, with a straight forward and honest approach, as well as a little bit of humour. Kirsty is passionate about sharing the realities of #MumLife, not the cookie cutter, high gloss version