The date my father died was always weighted with sadness. But having my own family made me realise I could mark his memory each year by living life to the fullest
When someone you loved died a long time ago, reminders arrive unannounced, unexpected, in ordinary life. An old song plays on the radio and you are jolted back to a long-forgotten time and place. Mention of a subject out of nowhere sparks a deep memory. This is why the anniversaries of deaths are solid things in our lives to hang on to. They are reliable buoys that help us to bob along when the past threatens to overwhelm.
Until recent years, one particular date would loom ahead of me bleakly every New Year. My father died on 11 January 1984, during a hip replacement operation to ease his ankylosing spondylitis, a condition that inflamed his spine and joints. He was 33, my mother 32; I was five, my brother one. I remember seeing him for the last time at the front door of our house; the last question he asked me was to find out what was number one in the pop charts (our mutual love fed my early obsession with music and eventual career as a music journalist).