As I listened to the voice at the end of the telephone my legs literally gave way beneath me and I began to cry uncontrollably. The frail man lying in the bed beside me, my father, was, at last, a single man, his dying wish had come true and I, having fought tooth and nail for the past year alongside him, despite the tragic circumstances that surrounded me, could not stop the tears of joy any more than I could control my legs beneath me, the Solicitors words sent me crashing to the floor, the Judge had awarded the Decree Absolute! We did it Dad, WE WON!!!
I suppose if I was completely honest with myself, I would have to admit that I didn't really get to know my dad until the final few years of his life. Again, in all honesty, this was probably when I also realised the importance of the word Dad and what it meant to me.
My parents had divorced when I was just a baby and so throughout my childhood, besides the odd holiday here and there, I would only really visit my Dad at the weekend, at the most once a month, which, in my teenage years turned into once or twice a year, I had more interesting things to do like hanging out in the park with my friends…Dad who?
Despite my reluctance to visit, I never doubted his love but I suppose the harsh reality was that he didn't know me any more than I knew him.
We drifted through the next few years with infrequent visits and the odd telephone call to each other, Birthdays and Christmas, you know how it goes, and then one night a phone call from my Dad changed it all forever.
After a routine visit to the doctor just months after he had retired, my Dad received the news that he had Myeloma, a treatable but terminal cancer; now I understood.
The bitter reality kicked in, I was older and wiser with a family of my own, I realised the importance of the role my Dad had played in my life, in my younger years he had been unable to see more of me because he was away at work and yet now, with extra time on his hands, he started to call me and visit on a regular basis. We would go out for lunch together. It was nice. It was more than nice in fact, it was lovely!
I learnt more and more about who Malcolm Robinson was, about his childhood and about the lifelong love affair he had with the Sea, from starting out a young Trawlerman living the 3-day millionaire lifestyle through to being Assistant Purser on board the MV Norland sailing from Hull to Rotterdam.
I learnt how exceptionally unhappy he was at home, stuck in a marriage without love with a wife who he believed was being unfaithful. I think our visits gave him a much-needed break from the monotony of his days and lonely existence.
I recognised a lot of myself within my dad, traits that I thought were unique to me I discovered were actually part of my genes, we had so much in common and got along so well that when my Dad told me that my Step-Mother didn't want to care for him any longer I invited him into my home without hesitation.
At the end of November 2009, my Dad moved in with us. I can recall the struggle of the first few days, trying to persuade my Dad to unpack his boxes and let us hang his pictures on his new bedroom wall – at first he was adamant that it wasn't worth the effort because ‘he wouldn't be around for long enough' and then slowly he began to settle into his new home and his outlook changed, he would cook the family meals ready for us arriving home from work and started to joke as to how we would ever cope without him!
It wasn't all plain sailing, life was hard, juggling full-time work with doctors and hospital appointments isn't easy and it was heart-breaking to see my Dad on his bad days, powerless to make things better I just did the very best I could. I recall how work became my distraction, a place where I could shut off the pain and hurt that was inescapable at home.
Like me Dad was exceptionally organised and efficient and had a spreadsheet for the majority of things! He made me Power of Attorney and so on the days that he was too poorly to attend himself, I would represent him and repeat his instructions to his Divorce Lawyer. It was a long and hard battle but my Dad was adamant, he wholeheartedly believed that THE only way that he could make his wife recognise the pain she had caused him was through her purse and he was determined that she would not benefit undeservedly from a full widow's pension.
We were firmly bonded in our fight to make the Divorce happen when tragically Dad was taken suddenly ill with pneumonia. I can still remember now the Consultant taking me into the side room and telling me there was nothing more that could be done, the news was delivered to my Dad as I stood beside him, holding his hand and trying desperately to be brave. The reality was that I was petrified of what was to come.
The next few days are all a bit of a blur, I spent every possible minute day and night at my Dad's side, mopping his brow or simply holding his hand and reassuring him. I don't know when or why I called his Lawyer, I think I just needed some help, some sort of direction as to what I should do next, if anything.
And so, on Monday 9th August 2010, there I was when my phone started to ring, standing at the bottom of my Dad's bed, surrounded by my siblings when the news of my Dad's long-awaited divorce came through. Picking myself up both laughing and crying I immediately ran over to my Dad, "Dad, Dad, you won't believe it, you are divorced. The Judge has granted your decree absolute; you are a free man."
My Dad sat bolt upright in bed, squeezed my hand, smiled, and then simply laid back down...He passed away peacefully and with dignity the following day...
The pain of losing my Dad won't ever go away, but do you know what I keep telling myself, he passed away a single man!
This week marks the anniversary of both my Dad's divorce and my Dad's death, I chose not to mourn his passing, but to celebrate the very thing that made us the Father and Daughter that we will be forever. We did it together, WE WON!
Happy Divorce Day in heaven Dad, I love you xxxx