The picture shows me and my parents at a dinner to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in 1984. At Christmas 1988 I became the scapegoat for the difficult circumstances around my sister leaving her husband. My father, my brother and that husband were all called Theo. My sister was living with someone else by then.
So, one Theo told me off for keeping in touch with that Theo and the third Theo collected me from my parents’ flat and took me to the airport. My father and I became estranged. Late September 1990 my father was taken to hospital after a suspected heart attack. He was doing okay, my brother told me, no need to rush and book a flight. Two days later my father died in hospital, instantly, after a large heart attack.
Almuerzo con mi padre
My father’s eyes behind the spectacles sparkle.
There’s wisdom in his moustache,
and dreams of fino sherry, chilled in a thin glass.
There would be time to wait and wander,
criss-cross a square, look at people,
the statue of a famous general on his horse.
The dead will be around us on the hills that hold the city.
My father claps his hands, decides where we will eat.
He’s learned his Spanish from reel-to-reel Linguaphone.
I’m online with Duolingo: Vino tinto, pan, conejo.
My father would have found it hard to choose
between the crema catalana and helada.
His moustache would have selected ice cream.