Arthur Stovell, December 1930 to June 2005

My lovely Dad died two years ago today. Pancreatic cancer is a stealthy disease; by the time the symptoms appear it’s very difficult to treat. In Dad’s case it was a bright yellow ‘suntan’, severe jaundice of course, which took us to casualty. Dad bore his illness with immense courage and dignity. He always felt deeply sorry for anyone he perceived to be worse off than himself – usually manifested by him shaking his head sorrowfully and tutting, ‘Look at that poor bastard’ until the day I had to point out that he was the poor bastard since no one else in the ward was as ill as him. From the day of his diagnosis to his very last breath Dad led the way and showed me how to face the unimaginable. I consider myself very lucky and immensely privileged to have had him as a father.

The following verses were written after that first trip to casualty when I drew some comfort from noticing the physical similarities between us.

Familiar Landscape

Since this new journey may be your last,
we laugh about your tell-tale tan
and joke about your choice of resort.
A and E, on this Sunday afternoon,
is as hot as the Med but it takes more
than a beach towel to reserve a bed here.

Even ambulances queue to strew
their pallid pallets of human wreckage;
broken limbs, faltering hearts, the self-harmers and
fallers from grace fill the rooms and line the corridor.
But you are accepted as an honoured guest
and that disturbs me more.

The doctor turns you tenderly in his arms,
Imparts the news that leaves each of us alone.
I find your naked foot and in your feet see mine.
And in this familiar landscape of your flesh and form
I seize a lifeline and carry it in my heart and in my bones.

I would also like to renew my thanks to the staff of the Royal Marsden Hospital and the Princess Alice Hospice who cared for Dad with such tenderness and love.


Gosh Chris, that is very moving.
What a good man he sounds.

You and your dad sound to have had a very special bond. How lucky you were to have him in your life.

God bless him, and you, as you remember him today.

warmest wishes and hug from mex
Exmoorjane said…
Oh Chris, cancer is such a foul disease. I had a shiver reading your blog, remembering my own dad (my birth dad) who died of lung still reverberates through me, even though I was only ten when he died.
I bet he would be so proud of you with your writing.
sally's chateau said…
You can never replace your Father and you are terribly lucky if you are blessed with a wonderful one. x
Chris a very very good poem, a real one with depth and levels. All that and anti matter too goodness what a weekend you must have had, I never forget the annivcersay of my paretns deaths and stil misss my ather terribly as I watch the kids grow up and know he nver saw them.

Keep writing poetry and aim for publicaiton on that field as well as novels if you haven't already.
Haze said…
Dear Chris, I'd forgot that it was the anniversary of your Dad,so sorry. I do remember however, how proud I felt of you when you held it together so well when reading about your Dad's life at his funeral, and that's how I felt just now when I read your 'Thoughts' just now. Your Dad would be so proud of you too. Your poem was lovely,as all your writing is.
Talk soon, Love Haze
Pondside said…
Hi Chris - I loved to read your tribute to your father. There can be such a lovely bond between father and daughter and I see it in your poem.
Sad day, sweet memories.
Elizabethd said…
Beautiful poem.
My father died when I was seven, so i never really knew that relationship btwn Father and daughter. Yours was special.
Cait O'Connor said…
A very moving poem.
Suffolkmum said…
Beautiful poem, Chris, and moving blog. You were lucky to have had the Father that you did and to have shared such a close bond; unlucky to lose him to this horrible disease.
Gosh don't you look like your Daddy. he had a samashing smile !
Suffolkmum said…
A lovely face.
I had to come back and see picture. He does indeed look a lovely man, I was right.

My Nan brought me up as you probably know by now. I always wanted a 'daddy.' I never envied anyone except the girls who were "daddy's girl" or "daddy's little princess."

Makes me sad to think I never had it. You must just be thankful that you did, my dear. I bet her loved you to bitsxx
elizabethm said…
This is wonderful to read Chris. lovely poem. having stood on the edges of the ocean your dad sailed I know you must have helped him to die so well.
I was a 'dad's girl' ... big hug ...lovely poem...I've got my dads feet right down to a quirky toenail....
Exmoorjane said…
Dear Chris
Pulled out a rune card for you and it was Thorn:
Thorn is very sharp for all men. Struggling with them is painful for any warrior. They are severe to those who live among them.
evil counsel is given by those of evil heart.

(but, while that might express your situation now, I couldn't bear to leave it there so asked for an outcome)....

Sun ever provides a joy to seamen when they cross the fish=bath-sea, till the brine-steed brings them to land. Sun brings a fair journey and good fortune. Its bright light chases away fear and warms the sea and earth.

So I think it seems like there will be some tricky stuff to get through at first but a good outcome is assured! Hope so.
Thank you so much for your encouragement on Walker.
elizabethm said…
Just to say Chris that your writing did not upset me, not in any negative way, moved me though.
bodran... said…
I understand the familiar landscape line,I lost my mum to cancer and as she got nearer the end suddenly i recognised all our similaritys even the feet, 7 years on and its still yesterday..xxoo
Faith said…
I understand. My father also died in June '05.

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