Christmas Day 2011, the day I had to grow up

The chairman of our family, my dad, Norman Forster, officially retired on Christmas Day 2011 at 2.00pm, aged 87.

That was the moment I had to finally grow up. My mother and wife were downstairs cooking Christmas lunch and I went upstairs to check on my father, we knew the time was approaching but were hoping he would get through Christmas Day, unfortunately he had passed away. So I now had to go downstairs and somehow tell my mother, I walked into the kitchen, they both had their backs to me, chatting away about something or other, I walked back out and debated with myself about telling them after lunch but I knew I couldn’t do that really.

So I had to go back in and tell them. It was the very worst thing I have ever had to do, although my mother had cared for my father for the past 8 months and was fully aware that his time was coming I knew it would break her heart. At that moment we entered the most surreal world and despite having time to get used to the idea of him dying nothing had really prepared us for it. But the show had to go on, it was Christmas Day and I have a 4 year old son.

For all of my life my father was always there for me, always around to pick up the pieces. Always in my corner, the person I could go to and ask about anything and receive sensible unbiased advice. Sometimes it wasn’t the answer that I wanted to hear but it was pretty much always the right answer. He was my CFO (which was his career) and Chairman, always providing a guiding hand.

There were times I didn’t take that advice and when it proved I should have, which was invariably the case, my father never once said I told you so. He mostly allowed me to make my own mistakes and if necessary helped to dig me out.

I owe both my parents everything and yet they in return have asked for nothing. When I look at the complex relationships that some of my friends have with their families I realise how fortunate I am to have had a ‘normal’ relationship with my parents.

So I’ve had to do some growing up in the past week or so, which seems an odd thing to say at my age. It’s my turn to stand in my mother’s corner and I am happy to be able to do it.

Love you Dad.

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