The Man of The House
Updated: Apr 18, 2020
I’m in the car with my parents, back in Dublin for a few days. We're driving to the family home - assistance is required. This errand, my mother explains, is a job for the only son, for the man of the house. Mum’s behind the wheel. She’s upset. Worried about the future. Dad is silent.
Last time I was in the car with him, just a few months ago, he was taking my girlfriend and I to the airport. It was just us - he was driving and glad to be doing so. We were going to LA via Dublin, following an invitation from a successful American comedian friend of ours.
I’ve had a career in the arts for some time now. I wouldn’t call myself a failure by any means but it has been tough at times, although things are certainly now moving in the right direction. Still, I worry. LA though, that could be something. My girlfriend and I were excited, my Dad was delighted. He had little interest in movies or TV as I grew up, but he appreciated good comedy - Father Ted, The Office, Fawlty Towers. He knew what funny was, or so he claimed, and I think maybe if things were different in his day, he may have pursued a career in comedy or acting, given half the chance.
Growing up, watching my Dad working as an auctioneer - performing, entertaining as he sold lot, after lot, and witnessing how he used humour to command a room and respect - made me realise how great comedy is, and that it's something I should pursue.
As we drove, we talked about what might happen in LA. We knew that, amongst other things, we were going to the set of a TV show and we’d be meeting lots of industry people - that alone, along with an In’n’Out burger, would make the trip.
We pulled into Dublin airport. Dad sprung up to help get our bags from the boot. He was jubilant that things were finally happening for me - it was almost a bigger deal for him than I. Our bags gathered, we moved to leave, and I stopped. I gave him a hug. Something I wouldn’t normally do - usually a handshake would suffice - but I really felt I should. He hadn’t been well. He was looking a little frail. I embraced him for a moment and said “see you soon”.
The three weeks in LA were fantastic. I think I want to move there, it offers more opportunity, hope. There's a few things to sort out here first though.
Still in the car with my parents, going home. Traffic is light, the car cruises with ease, the bumps of the road markings rhythmically crack the silence. Mum continues to drive, still upset. Dad is on my lap. I sat on his lap as a child but now he’s on mine. They did a nice job with the box - pine and a plaque with his name on it.
I bring the box into the kitchen and set it on the table. We don’t know what to do with it yet. Maybe we’ll spread his ashes in the garden, or smuggle them into France or something. There's plenty of time to decide. Sadly, he’s not going anywhere. I am though, back to London on the late flight, flying away - the man of the house.