This was always going to be the sort of post that would be difficult for me to write. Difficult because it's about something serious. Difficult because it's normally so much easier for me to do something silly. Difficult because I'm going through something that's really, well, difficult.
My father died on Sunday evening.
Right now we're all in a state of bewilderment and shock. While his health wasn't always 100%, Dad's passing in the matter of a few hours was a complete surprise. The family is strong, but as we lost my grandfather only a few weeks ago, there is a lot for us to take in right now.
There was a part of me that wasn't going to write about it here. Whether or not I'll get some form of catharsis from ignoring that part of me is yet to be seen. I haven't got the energy to do something in parable form, like I did for granddad. I wish I had. But I'm pretty much drained. So the first version of this post - explaining why you won't be reading anything new here for a while - was going to end here.
But as I was sitting here, exhausted after spending the day with my mother and brothers - not doing anything really, just being - I had a bit of an epiphany.
One thing I know I got from my Dad was a love of language. Words - written and spoken - gave him great pleasure. He was an avid reader, and would devour books at an amazing rate of knots. Perhaps it was an inquisitive mind; whenever he obtained a new item he would first sit down and read its instruction manual from cover to cover. I can hear him now: "If all else fails, read the instructions."
I never showed him anything I'd written here - not even the story I wrote after the passing of his own father three weeks ago. I suppose I thought he'd think it was all a bit silly. It gives me pleasure, though, and it's good to know that it sometimes makes complete strangers smile. A few strangers have been good enough to tell me it makes them laugh. Which makes it all worthwhile. Someone much better at this than me once said: "Perhaps blogging is like doing a favour for a friend. It's thankless, but it gives me satisfaction." Perhaps the desire to use words to make people happy is something else I got from Dad.
Final anecdote. I last saw him on Boxing Day. He'd asked for, and was delighted to receive, a large-print copy of the Bible. On seeing our raised eyebrows - apart from Mum none of us are particularly religious - he explained: "I've always wanted to study it. This will take me a good two months or so."
Perhaps he wanted to read the ultimate instruction manual.
Folks, I'm going to take my leave from you for a while. I've got other things to do at the moment. I hope I can honour my Dad's memory by playing around with these silly words again at some point in the near future.