My father in law, Kevin
Today would have been my father in law’s 74th birthday, however he died almost 4 years ago on 8th December 2005.
I was in my office, putting make up on, having a glass of wine and getting ready for our work Christmas party. I’d been trying to get hold of Craig for a couple of hours but as he works nights and quite often has a nap in the early evening I wasn’t too worried. He rang me sounding a bit distant. ‘Nothing’s wrong’, he protested ‘I’m fine. You have a good night and I’ll see you later’. I kept pushing. He didn’t sound fine. ‘He’s dead Emma. My Dad’s dead’. He finally admitted, breaking down.
Kevin raised Craig and his two sisters after he split with their Mum. She was still a central figure in their lives (they’re all very close now and she looks after Sam for us while I work) but they chose to live with their Dad. Craig and his sisters were only about 7,6 and 5 when their parents split up and in the mid 1970’s single dads were almost unheard of.
It wasn’t easy for Kevin raising 3 young children and working to pay the bills. He was very much a jack of all trades, willing to work as anything that paid. From just the stories I’ve heard he turned his hand to professional fotball (playing for Wigan Athletics), mechanic, pub landlord, handyman and who knows how many other professions.
It was a struggle for them all but they loved and respected their Dad so much it didn’t matter. Craig and his sisters often recall times they made toast on the living room fire when the gas and electricity had been switched off; how Kevin rigged the TV meter so they could watch TV for free; how they pooled the pocket money their Mum gave them so Kevin could have a night out at the pub and some tobacco.
Despite money worries Kevin always made sure they had a holidayevery year. Nothing flash, caravaning in Rhyl and Blackpool, Butlins, camping in Southport. But it was always something and they had a great time. On of the reasons we’re headin off to Butlins Skegness next year is that Craig has so many happy memories of it from going with his Dad.
Kevin always made me laugh, he was a bit of a bugger. He frequently said if Craig ever messed me around he’d either deal with him or take over from him! He had a couple of heart attacks in the year or so before he died. I remember going to see him in hospital. In the top pocket of his pyjamas, along with a heart monitor he had a packet of cigarettes. And god help you if you didn’t take more cigarettes for him. It still tickles me now.
Kevin loved his children fiercely and was always very close to them. I firmly believe that he waited until they were all happy and settled before he left them. Craig and I had only been engaged for 6 weeks when he died. Craig’s older sister was married with 2 children, his younger sister engaged with a daughter. Craig was the last to settle down.
He would have been so proud of them all. They’re wonderful, kind, funny people because of the way he raised them. I see Craig with Sam now and wish with all my heart that Kevin could have seen the father he has become and the new grandson he has. Kevin also missed his youngest daughter’s wedding last year. Craig did him proud though, walking her down the aisle and making a wonderful speech at her wedding. Kevin would have loved to have seen her looking so beautiful, as did her daughter as bridesmaid. He would have loved to have seen how well his grandchildren are turning out, both girls are growing into beautiful teens now. I would love to see his reaction to his eldest grandson’s new long haired emo look too!
Kevin also missed our wedding of course. It may have seemed morbid to some but we named all our tables after people close to us who weren’t with us anymore. The top table was the Kevin Murphy table. It was our way of remembering him. As we’ve also done by naming Sam, Samuel Kevin Martin Murphy (Martin is my dad).
We often think of him and talk about him. As I’ve mentioned before on Twitter we have a lot of spooky goings on at our house; seeing orbs in Sam’s room, cold patches, unexplained noises, Sam either laughing or crying hysterically at something which isn’t there. Some of these things I believe are Kevin. Not long after Sam started laughing out loud he would look at a certain point on the ceiling and burst into fits of laughter at nothing. I remember saying to Craig (who thought I was mad) that I thought Sam was laughing at Kevin. ‘Go on then Dad’, Craig said, ‘If it is you make Sam laugh again’. Sam had been playing with a toy but turned his head, looked at the ceiling and started laughing. I’m not sure if it was real or a conincidence but we do like to think that he’s looking down on us and the grandchild he never met.
Today we’ll be taking Sam to the crematorium where we scattered Kevin’s ashes on a cold day just before Christmas 4 years ago. We’ll tell him what a wonderful, inspirational, funny man his grandfather was. Then when Sam is in bed we’ll raise a glass of Kevin’s favourite whisky and toast a wonderful father, father in law and grandad who was taken from us too soon.