Dr David Thom


As a kid I once asked my dad what was the highest smartest qualification a person could gain. He told me that it was a PhD. Then he casually revealed that he had one on the study of Sea Weed I thought sea weed was pretty silly, not to mention slimy, but I was still impressed. MY DAD WAS THE SMARTEST. He brought me up short by telling me HIS dad was smarter still, because he solved the Rubik cube using a scrap of paper and a pencil.

 He was a dreamer. But not only did he dream, he fought with buckets full of determination, his own flair, bloody hard work, and wry sense of humour. He achieved much more than he ever imagined he would. This working class boy from Perth moved on from playing football on the North Inch to the top of his chosen profession. He travelled the world and got to America just like he always wanted. I am curious about every corner of the globe because of his tales about sitting on his knees at a Japanese restaurant, climbing Aztec ruins in Mexico, or being soaked at Niagara Falls. He gave me my love for baseball, kept his promise to take me to Broadway and so much more besides.

He truly tried to do his best to make things right. I remember one time coming across a huge bunch of flowers on the side in his kitchen. He told me it was from “some guys at work he had to let go” … let me get this straight, you took their jobs and they sent you flowers. Huh? Turns out he’d worked for two weeks to find new positions for the whole team with a rival company.

 He was so proud. Not only of himself, and of me and my brother. He was proud of his brother E, his wife C and of My cousins G and L . He missed his parents so much. His grief was a burden he carried for the rest of his life. I hope he’s found them up there and he has peace.

Dad was a worrier. He used to worry all the time. And when there was nothing to worry about, he would worry that he’d missed something. … We still love you Dad, so stop worrying.

The last time my Dad was able to give me a proper hug, he held me oh so tight and so very quietly whispered “You are amazing.” He believed we were all capable of achieving whatever we set our minds to. He smiled at this four year old who said she was going to be an actress, and he was still smiling at this fourteen year old who said she’d win an Oscar too. He never said the words impossible/wouldn’t/shouldn’t/couldn‘t… I have a different dream now, but I still have a dream, and that’s what’s important to him.

There are plenty of things I could say about a man who somehow lost his way. There are many lessons his life can teach us but each of us here can figure those out without any help from me. I hope I reminded you of the man he was before all that. Underneath all that, because I know he cared deeply about the people in this room. And I bet, up there, always the businessman, he’s already putting in a good word and doing some wheeler dealering on all our behalves.

 My dad was always the speech giver; I’ve seen him do it at work, I’ve heard the stories about him stepping up as best man. He seemed to know just how to hit the nail on the head, to say what needed to be said and still have everyone chuckling with him OR at him. I don’t think he minded. I can just see his cheeky smile and the glint in his eye as he delivered his punch line. I never imagined that the first time my dad would watch me give a speech it would be here like this… I’m sorry dad there’s no punch line.

I’m so Tiired.

I put it off for as long as I could, but eventually at 1.30 am this morning I had to give in and admit that I would need to pack. I think this is the first time I’m actually dreading crossing the border into Scotland. I don’t want to go. I don’t want to do this…any of it.  The funeral is 2.30 pm on Friday, there will be a rosewood coffin, a prayer, one single hymn, some music, my eulogy… I’m going through the list with my mum on the phone like this is just another day, another family event to be negotiated. So numb and detached as there seems to be question after question after question. It’s only when there is finally silence that it hits me all over again… this is my dad!

I hate silence. I’ll fill it with anything, stupid things… sometimes things that make no sense. I have lost count of the number of times Gadget Guy has heard the phrase “I’m TIIIRED”, but I know it’s a lot because even he is getting a little frustrated. But hay as long as his frustration is expressed as some form of noise; it still fills the awful silence.

I am TIRED. So tired I’m starting to irritate myself. I slept for 8 hours last night – a full 8 hours. That’s the first time I’ve done that since this bomb shell was dropped. Still, today I was only in town for a couple of hours and I was practically begging KM to forgo the movie we had planned to see and just bring me home.  Weary so weary. The world is so noisy, it’s exhausting.  Can’t you people STFU … I’m TIRED.

Can’t cope with noise. Hate silence. What’s a girl to do…

All I want to do is buy a CD. I’m trying to buy this CD. I need this song… I can’t find it oh God I can’t find it… where is it… WHERE THE HELL IS IT… I need that song… NEEED it for my DAD.  Great, now I’m crying in the middle of HMV… bloody great.  I HATE crying.

Apparently this is part of those life experiences that make grown ups so much wiser than me. You know, I’m not too fussed on being wise.  How about you keep wise and make this go away?  Nope? Damn.

This is THE hardest thing I’ve done in my life …… and I’ve been through a lot of stuff.

Leaving tomorrow … I will be strong …I will be… I…

Febuary 19th 2010

This date will be forever engraved in my heart. I should be sat here recounting to you the tales of my interview and the minor panic attack that I was sure would keep me from ever gaining a place to study, laughing of the experience and letting you know that it will be OK as I have been invited to two other interviews in early March. I should be talking about the week I spent at my mum’s…

The 19th of February could have been a day of celebration, rejoicing and a confirmation of the fact that I am putting my life back together. I should have been bouncing off the walls with excitement as soon as I opened the envelope. I don’t know if the interviewers saw some spark of passion in my eyes, despite the panic. I have no clue, but that morning the postman dropped a letter onto the floor of our hall way.  “We are pleased to make you a conditional offer”… I’m going to be a student midwife. I DID IT… but there will be no celebration.

In fact I haven’t even finished reading the contents of that letter. It’s been shoved in a drawer some place and ignored. Instead of writing my joyful post, I’ve spent the afternoon crying my eyes out as I try to figure out how best to express the jumble of emotions I feel about my father; how to sum up the life of a complicated man in less than 4 minutes. I’ve never written a eulogy, truth be told. When I took up the task, I had to consult Google before I knew what one really was. Heck I’ve never been to a funeral before…

My dad passed away at around 8.30 am on the morning of the 19th from Pneumonia. He had been frail and not really himself for several years after suffering a series of strokes, but I’d only found out he was in hospital the night before and was planning to visit this weekend.  I guess he couldn’t wait for me.

We hadn’t seen each other for several years and the relationship had not been good for a long time. I was filled with anger and resentment perhaps even hatred and not without my reasons, but now I just feel numb… and so weary. Today, for the first time in what seems like forever, I miss my dad. Not the man he became, but the one he was before he lost his way: the image of him that’s been in my head for the last three days… where he’s smiling…  his blue green eyes sparkling… no longer clouded  by grief, anger and the drunken haze.. I have no idea where this picture came from, but he’s happy and thinking clearly… it seems so real like I could almost touch him… I’d give anything to talk to the man in that picture. I’d have him critique my speech.

Yes, whatever has passed between us, I feel little regret. If he truly is free from his afflictions now, I know he understands why I was absent. I also know he would want to take it all away from me the burden of what happened… the fear, the hurt and the tears. He would want to make me whole again because deep deep down under it all, I feel … he always loved me.

My head has been in a mess since Thursday. The phone has been ringing off the hook and I don’t know if I’m coming or going. I’m getting so sick of the phrase “are you ok?”

All I can tell you is that I’m tired… oh so tired. My body is aching all over and I have a splitting headache that does not seem to want to leave. Sleeping is hard and even when I get some it doesn’t make the blind bit of difference. I’m stuck in the eye of a storm and I have no idea when it’s going to end. I’m running on empty. I haven’t really thought about whether I’m OK despite the fact that I keep telling everyone I’m alright.

All I can focus on is what I have to do: how I can find the strength… how I can compose myself and ignore all those who question my actions or judge me or seem to know how I should feel even thought they haven’t spoken to me in ages. I’m holding on tight to the fact that at the end of the day what everyone else thinks does not matter at all. This is between me and my dad. Call it “stepping up to the plate”… being the bigger person… taking the moral high ground. Whatever, forgiveness is the final gift I can try to give him.

I’m determined to make sure the final words said about him do him justice  and I will  lead by example and not get caught up in petty fighting or casting blame because it does not make one  bit of difference now, does  it ?

I’m still his daughter… and I will be with him as he makes this final journey. I’m hoping that from somewhere he will send me some of his determination and strength as I try to give him every reason to be proud of the person I have become.

I’ll worry about if I’m OK afterwards.

Ali xX