Which side of me will win?

Dad – Part 3: Thirty something

I was really not comfortable about turning 30. I didn’t like the idea at all. I knew it was silly, but I really was a bit panicked. I had this horrible feeling that my young life was over and that I hadn’t done enough of the cool, young things that you can only do when you’re young. I hadn’t had sex with enough different young women. I think that’s basically what I’m saying.

Someone made me feel better. It was Dorota, and she made me feel better on the night I celebrated my birthday. I don’t remember how she made me feel better, but I was surprised at how much sense she was making because, frankly, she’s not one for making much sense. I think what she said was along the lines of, “Things aren’t going to be any different tomorrow just because you’re one year older.” She was right, of course. It’s simple logic – the difference between age 29 and age 30 isn’t real. It’s just a man-made concept. Of course she was right.

But, through no fault of her own, Dorota was horribly, tragically wrong. Almost as soon as I turned 30, my life went seriously wrong.

It was the Friday after my birthday, just five days later. Myself and my girlfriend at the time, Karen, drove to my mum’s house to pick up a TV that my brother didn’t want any more and had offered as a birthday present. My mum had insisted that we all go out for a meal as she had something she wanted to talk about. For some reason we all ended up in a Little Chef. I remember my mum pointing out that this was the least appropriate place for her to talk about what she needed to talk about.

I had no idea what she needed to talk about. She needed to talk about Dad.

She went about it in a very roundabout, long-winded way. Karen later told me that she noticed my mum nearly crying once or twice as she was talking. I didn’t notice. I didn’t leave that Little Chef feeling too bad either. Something might be wrong with Dad, and it was possibly something serious, but there was no point fretting until we knew. We’d know soon, as he was booked in for a scan.

On the day of his scan I went around my friend Jon’s house to watch Tottenham Hotspur play PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Cup. I don’t remember anything about the match at all. I had to look it up to find out who Spurs were playing. Soon after the match finished, my mum called.

I remember saying to Jon, after I got off the phone, “My dad has cancer. It doesn’t sound like he’s going to get better.”

Jon was more shocked than I was. For me, it wasn’t really sinking in.

My first four days of being 30 were fine. But from day 5 onwards, it just kept on getting worse and worse. I’m not sure exactly when it started to get better again. But I wasn’t 30 any more, that’s for sure.


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