My dad died yesterday.  I’m crying even at writing that.  I didn’t think this was something I’d have to deal with for at least another 15-20 years, but life is unfair like that.  I’m not really even sure why I’m writing this, but I feel I need another outlet for how I feel, and Facebook isn’t really cutting it.

Yesterday was kind of like two days. We went to bed Saturday evening, but got a call from the hospital at 2am Sunday saying his condition had worsened. We’d been expecting this, but it was still pretty horrible. We sat with him and cried. I think he was conscious we were there; after about half an hour he reached out for my mum, who hugged him and said ‘You can go if you want to; you don’t have to fight any more; you’ve been so brave.’  I told him he’d been the best dad ever.  Slowly his breathing became more and more shallow and, after a time, we realised he’d left us.

You don’t really know what to do. The hospital staff do – they’ve seen it all before. We felt like we were abandoning him when we left. Came home and sat about stupidly until about 5am, then went to bed. Didn’t sleep too much.

Sunday morning proper and it wasn’t all a dream, but still didn’t feel like reality. Still doesn’t. Busied ourselves – there’s quite a bit to be busy with, when someone dies. You don’t realise til it happens. Letting people know, trying not to cry when people are sympathetic (I need a ‘please do not rub, pat, hug or say “I’m so sorry”‘ sign to wear, seriously.)

Told close family. Still didn’t seem real. Went to the fridge to get a drink and saw his absolute favourite blue stilton in there. Howling after that.

Today was another busy day; funeral planning, probate, inheritance tax, pensions, bank accounts, death certificate, life insurance. I feel if I keep moving from task to task, from room to room, I won’t have to think about it. It won’t have time to be real. It’s like skating on thin ice; if you keep moving you won’t fall through.

I want to speak at his funeral. I want to say what he meant to me. But I know I won’t be able to hold it together to manage it. How do I fix that? How do people do it?

Total selfish moment; my sister has worked alongside my dad in running the family sailing school business for a long while. Because I’ve lived in London for 12 years, very few of the students/instructors etc. know who I am. All the messages of condolence are to my mum and sister. I feel invisible. It used to be like that with Christmas cards – all for my mum, dad and sister.  Didn’t bother me so much.  This does. But I know how petulant that sounds and I’m not proud.

Don’t let the door hit you…

So I was going to write something pithy and amazing for an inaugural post, but given the most astonishing display of contortionism (is that a word?  It is now.) I just witnessed as a chap attempted to hold two doors open at the same time, forcing two able-bodied women to duck underneath his outstretched arms, all in the name of ‘chivalry’, I felt compelled to write this.  Potentially a contentious topic (what topic involving gender isn’t?) but I really want to wade in with my tuppence worth.

Guys – you really, really don’t have to hold a door open for someone *just* because they’re female.  This is an old-fashioned token of ‘chivalry’ which I don’t think we need any more (and which, when you really break it down, is inherently sexist)

Taking a view based purely in practicality – if it’s quicker/easier/more efficient for you (and this is aimed at everyone, regardless of gender) to hold a door open for someone and then go through after them; do that.  Regardless of the gender of either of you.

Are they heavily laden?  Hold the door.  Are they pushing a pram/trolley?  Hold the door.  Do they have crutches or a stick?  Hold the door.

Are they some way behind you, female and not presenting with any obvious physical issue which would prevent them opening the door for themselves?  Don’t stand there for 30 seconds with the door propped open.  It becomes weird.  If you wouldn’t do it for a guy (i.e. no broken leg/pile of books/pushchair) then don’t do it JUST BECAUSE it’s a woman, and *especially* not if it’s actually more awkward/time consuming than if you’d just gone through first.

Likewise with lift and bus queues.  If I arrive at a bus stop after a man, I don’t expect to be waved onto the bus ahead of him.  Why would I?  What possible benefit is there for me to get on first?  The lifts in my building seem to cause no end of issue – I get waved on ahead of guys, even though I’d rather get on after them because I’m going to get off before them. Practicality and all that.

I know a load of people reading this will go ‘Oh ffs, you can’t please women these days’ and to that I say “Oh yes you can”.  The swiftest way to please us is to stop thinking about women based solely on gender, and think of us as people.  If you’re the kind of guy who’s been conditioned into believing he has to hold the door for women no matter how awkward it becomes, ask yourself *why* you think women need that assistance.