“Our Father Who Art In….”

Tomorrow Father’s Day makes a perennial June tarry to the UK; a twenty four hour residency which introduces mixed emotions for GJ Strachan. On one hand, esprit consequential of ordinarily having opportunity to meet up with one or both my offspring. However, at the other end of the emotional spectrum, melancholy borne from no longer being able to share this day with my late dad.

This Sunday will witness the fifth Father’s Day, since his 2017 passing. Occasions where I’m unable to present my old man (Malcolm) with the habitual, but always much appreciated, gifts of a bottle of Chilean merlot and a recently released musical CD.

With Mally not providing a forwarding address on his passing half a decade ago, the occasions play out without presenting him with these traditional endowments…… That being said, if he had, I’d dread to think what postage costs we’d have incurred to courier him those trinkets to his current location…. Not that he isn’t/wasn’t worth it, I hasten to add!

I can’t even send him a Father’s Day greeting on Facebook. Where his spirit now resides being one of the few places the social media mega giant hasn’t yet rolled out ….. Well, not that I’m aware of anyhow!

If it materialises FB is available in dad’s new domain, I’ll be a bit put out he’s not invited me as a friend yet!! I’ll check the ‘Friends List’ of my siblings later to ascertain if they’re buddies with him, ascertaining whether our late patriarch remains in touch with his two youngest offspring, but chooses to keep his black sheep eldest child at arms length.

Saying that, dad had little interest in social media interaction when he was alive, so even if Zuckerberg’s platform does branch out as far as the afterlife, it’s unlikely our late father would sign up to the gig.

I’m penning this deferential piece in the dining room his labour paid for. From yours truly’s table side pew my aesthetic companions are a retaining wall built by Mally’s own hands, turf he laid after moving in 1989; along with a variety of perennial shrubs which outlived the beautiful man I was blessed to call dad.

In a large plant pot close to the wall he built sits a rhododendron containing a small amount of his ashes (the remainder reside at the Headingley stadium’s memorial garden). Hanging reverentially from the plant’s stem an aluminium leaf the family purchased after his passing; this memorial piece originally attached to Wakefield Hospice’s Tree of Life.

I hold romantic notions dad now resides in a utopian paradise where he’s entertained by his favourite singers Frank Sinatra and Mel Torme, while drinking a glass of red with ex-Leeds United hero Billy Bremner and reaping a plethora of suitable ‘rewards’ his decent lifetime behaviour warrants.

With my ailing faith, though, I’m yet to be convinced there exists a celestial heaven where dad mingles with his also deceased lifetime idols. One thing I’m utterly convinced of, though, is his spirit does and will always exist in the hearts of his family and close friends; individuals whose lives are infinitely the worse for his passing.

I think about Malcolm Strachan every single day. The triggers that blindside me can be simple as opening the cutlery drawer and witnessing the slightly marked potato peeling knife he’d use to make chips. Potatoes he’d cut with forensic symmetry; an OCD strategy he followed to maximise chances the fries would attain a consistent level of browning.

Seeing one of the many eclectic CD’s he loved is another frequent trigger to evoking memories of the old fella. In fact, as I write, an Elton John disk bought as a present for, what turned out to be, his final Fathers Day is perched on the cabinet housing his music collection.

The music disk not sat there from the last time he played it, I hasten to add. Moreover, a consequence of me playing the music yesterday evening to remind me of the last occasion I’d an opportunity to wish him Happy Father’s Day to his face. Yesterday’s sound and landscape augmented further by an accompanying glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

The above experience a brew of melancholy, interspersed with wry smiles as I fondly recalled the man I was fortunate enough to have as a role model.

Happy Fathers Day up there, dad!


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