When I heard that James Gandolfini had died this week of a heart attack at 51 my dad was all I could think about. Dad died aged 52 of a massive heart attack on 21st June 1998. That makes today the 15th anniversary of his death.
15 years seems so significant, such a big number. I feel like it was yesterday. I feel like it was forever ago.
I was 24 (almost 25) when he died and his passing no doubt shaped me into who I am today.
It was Father's Day & for once we were all together at my sister's house for lunch. For once we had made a really big fuss of him. We sat & had Mexican food, we talked, we laughed. Dad then went upstairs for a nap, the rest of us were going to go for a walk, it was a gorgeous day. My mum went up to talk to him before we went out and then called down to us, she was panicked. And I knew that something awful had happened from the tone of her voice. I knew.
We went upstairs & he wasn't really conscious, he was a horrible colour and he breathing was laboured.
My sister called for an ambulance, I shouted at him to breathe. My other sister waited outside for them to arrive. The ambulance came & we all decamped to the living room. They didn't want us to see them trying to revive him, and then to try and get my father, a large man, down the narrow stairs. My older sister kept on saying 'whatever happens it's for the best'.
My mum went in the ambulance with dad & my soon to be brother in law. I followed with my sisters.
They took us through to a family room off A&E. He was in crash. "He wouldn't like that" Mum said "anyone who goes into crash on Casualty is a gonner he says". Turns out he was right.
The next few hours was a blur of phone calls ringing people to tell them. I volunteered to break the news to my grandparents and their reaction will haunt me forever.
I can't really put into words how my world crashed down around me when he was gone. My Dad. My Daddy. I kind of lost focus for a while
But life does go on and time does make things a bit easier to bear. Anniversaries and special occasions bring it back. And music. I can't hear The Beatles without thinking of him.
So much has happened in the past 15 years. Me & my sisters have all got married since he died. We've had 7 children between us. My mum has had breast cancer twice. We really could have done with having him around. Even if he was a pain in the arse sometimes and told embarrassing stories and naff jokes and made me rub his feet all the time. I miss him.
My heart goes out to James Gandolfini's family and their loss.