I Cannot Delete Dad


This is a poem by Paul Cookson (above), who I’ve had the pleasure of seeing perform, and who once inspired my son when doing one of those school visits which so many authors undertake. I hope Paul won’t mind me posting it here, as the only place I’ve ever seen it is on a Microsoft Word document on his blog, and Google doesn’t seem to be able to find it there.


Today is the day he would have been eighty.
The same year as I am fifty
and my son eighteen.
One of those generational quirks.

And yet, it will not be.
It cannot be.
A month before his seventy eighth
the cancer took him away, strangled him from the inside.

Within a week he was gone.
Once so strong, now …just gone.

Time may not have healed us
but it has given some perspective
as things fall into some sort of order,
some sort of clarity…

The sparing of unnecessary pain
plus the fact he would have hated being a patient.
Small mercies maybe, but mercies nonetheless

And even now, two years on,
if I go to the speed dial on my mobile phone
to ring the number I know so well
the number that has not changed in my nearly fifty years
it still comes up as Mum and …Dad

Mum is the only one who can ever answer that number now
but I cannot bring myself,
I have not got the heart,
to edit and change those settings.

I cannot delete and Dad
in any way, shape or form
and that is the way it should ever be

Mum and Dad

When I first heard the poem – with Paul reading it on stage – I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing. I’m sure the sentiment applies to thousands of people who’ve lost someone close, especially to cancer, but it’s almost as if this poem was written for me. Eighty, fifty, eighteen, seventy-eight …even the ages only need changing by a couple of years. And now, whenever my Mum rings me and the photo of my Mum …and Dad pops up, I think of this amazing poem. Every single time.