I do love the On This Day feature on Facebook, and on this say in 2015, I graduated with a Geography degree from Kings College London. And the very one thing I was determined to do, was to get my dad to the ceremony!
Now you may think that would be an easy task, any Dad would love to see his daughter do this, but oh no it was a job and a half, but I did get him there!
Now my own memory is patchy but I will tell you what I do remember. It started with me planting the seed over the phone, and going up north to make sure he was fully prepared and knew what he was getting himself into. Dragged him into town and said “You are coming to London with me soon and you need to look very smart, and we are getting you a suit! Go straight to the sales rack and get him to try a few on.” Now he was a good sport, the guy in the shop was helping me and I picked him a rather snazzy suit, maybe because it was on sale, and maybe because I thought lets just go big or go home. It was a very shiny grey, smooth fancy kind of grey with a black trim (I have no idea the proper terms for man’s suit!)
Get him to part with his money and then we go straight over the road to M&S to get him some shoes. Now my Dad has always been a certain way, and I have always known to manage his moods, so we needed to be quick and precise. Picked up some smart shoes, put them on his feet before he even knew what was happening and he did like them on! BOOM shoes bought. Little did I know that literally a year later he would wear this very fancy shoes out walking on a wet Friday night, not knowing where he lived before he was hositalised.
Again, my memory is patchy but I don’t remember how he got down to London. He must have got on the train at Liverpool and me meet him at Euston to come back to the pub where I lived at the time. I had use of a small little flat above all for me which I loved, which meant my dad had my room and I was on the sofa.
I do remember trying to get up early the next morning and rushing to get us all ready. If I remember correctly I brought all his clothes down for him, to give him one less thing to remember and worry about. Then we come downstairs, ready to get the tube to the Barbican and Clare who I lived with at the pub took a quick photo before we left. Otherwise, I didn’t take many photos myself as I was always a believer in just being in the moment and enjoying it. But now my memories are fading and his are completely disappearing I wish I had a balance of that, but hey hindsight is a wonderful thing!
My mother and her husband were coming down, and so was one of my sisters and her husband, so we would meet them there, and I popped off to get my robe, fake certificate, and all that jazz. After the main bit of walking on the stage then comes the awkwardly talking to people you know and your lecturers with a glass of wine and a sandwich. I distinctly remember speaking to my favorite lecturer who was my dissertation supervisor, and my Dad just wanted to make a conversation, but he simply didn’t know what he was talking about and didn’t make a great deal of sense (really should of known at this stage too!). He kept talking about how he didn’t know how great the university it was, and prestigious and all that good stuff, and I must of just try to close the conversation down an move on, but I loved that he tried.
Jump to a few hours later, we have a family photo and then everyone starts to leave. He is going back to Liverpool that day and his worrying kicks in. I mean looking back at what he is like now, this must of been signs for us that maybe something wasn’t right, but he has always been a bit like this, and you just try and manage it through the day, day by day, and just consider that a win. At this stage, I was just so happy I had managed to get him down, but he started with his usual routine of saying we need to get to the station for his train. His other daughter and husband are there that he spends no time with and trying to force that just was not going anywhere and he was just getting agitated. So they left, we had tried for as long as we could manage (and he could manage.) To then make a point we hopped in a black cab to get the station, and it was at least an hour early.
So we get the station, he has his stuff and it kicks in that we are here so early and I am annoyed. He becomes super apologetic and soppy,’oh you know I love you don’t you.’ Now I wasn’t being a bitch, I just kept making my rational point of you never spend time with us, and we had hours to get here for his train. And that was it, he went home and he made it to my graduation.
When he went missing that Jan weekend of 2016 a year later, it did cross my mind that he had left his normal walking shoes in the corner and somehow grabbed his posh shoes. Which are so much harder to put on (I had to help him for my graduation) so he must of not know and be so disoriented that he went without his coat, proper shoes, keys, and phones to walk around town, and then didn’t know where to go back to. And that brings us back around to a story I won’t say again.
Going to Kings was one of the greatest experiences I was so privileged to have done, people said don’t move down to London, its expensive but I love it! And I will always remember that I dragged my Dad down for such a key moment in my life, and call me selfish but I don’t regret the work or his rattiness at all. It happened 🙂