Many apologies for breaking up the travel blogging for a minute to write about something very serious and close to my heart.
On this day in 2007, one of the most amazing men in my life was taken away from us and now resides in heaven; my Uncle Dave. When I was a kid he was my cool, funny and hilariously annoying Uncle; but as each year has passed and I’ve got older, I’m understanding more and more what an extraordinary man he was.
When I was growing up, he was the man who;
- Nicknamed me Fatalie (I wasn’t even fat) and re-worked the lyrics of Grease songs at my expense…”look at me I’m Fatalie, I am so damn greedy, won’t go to bed until I’ve been fed”…”Fatalieeee, can’t you see, you’re so greedy; you sit at home, all alone, eating like a pig.” It wasn’t just me who was subjected to the above kind of ridicule, he made songs out of my cousin’s nickname too and pretty much made fun of everyone he loved. His banter game was strong.
- Didn’t have a conventional “grown-up” job like most adults; the adult version of myself now would assume he was a freelancer in the media field. He appeared as an extra in TV shows such as Eastenders, The Bill, Desmond’s and Family Affairs, went to Greece for work A LOT, and he even wrote, directed and produced his own TV show – Flash Tash records. Most impressively, in the 1980s he worked as a Michael Jackson lookalike! Uncle Dave was even used as a decoy to distract fans and the press when the real MJ was in town.
- Had the messiest room of any adult I knew!
Now, as a 22 year old woman, I’ve come to realise what made him such a spectacular person. I don’t want him to only be remembered as someone who “fought cancer so gracefully” and “lost the battle”, but the way he dealt with his illness is a big example of the kind of person he was. In May 2006, we lost my Grandad; and it was around this time my Uncle was diagnosed with cancer – himself and one family friend knew it was terminal, but he didn’t share this with us. He wanted to carry on his life as normal, look after his family, and just be the Dave we all know and love. In the last 6 months of his life, he re-found his faith and was very positive, made sure he carried on going to the gym when he was well enough, went to Greece again, and took my Grandma to her homeland of Barbados – the place he took his final breaths.
My Uncle Dave was only 39 years old when he passed away; he didn’t have any children, but he spent his life helping others. He lived at home looking after my Grandparents, and looked after my Grandma after my Grandad passed away. As I mentioned before, that coincided with his diagnosis, we were all mourning – Uncle Dave had all of that to deal with but he never complained once.
Despite his somewhat mean banter, Uncle Dave was actually nice to everyone. The day of his funeral the church was full to the brim, so many people wanted to pay respect to a person who touched the hearts of everyone he knew.
Most importantly, he made us laugh all the time! He’d ring up and say “Hi Fatalie, ask Cherelle how are things in Addis Ababa”, “you should know” I’d reply. Context: my sister Cherelle was a super skinny child, Uncle Dave would say she looked like a starving African that you’d see on a Save The Children advert, or in Addis Ababa, for example. Uncle Dave was also very skinny, so “he should know” exactly how things are in Addis Ababa. In the 14 years I had the pleasure of having him in my life, I never saw him unhappy, and never heard him speak badly of anybody. He was an effortlessly funny and kind person.
photos left to right: me & Uncle Dave at the Rhein Falls in Switzerland 1999; Uncle Dave, my dad & Grandad – Christmas 1989; my mummy with Uncle Dave & Uncle Carl on my parents’ wedding day 1990
photos from top left to bottom right: Uncle Dave on the far left, with his brother & sisters (my mum, aunties and uncles); Uncle Dave (in the pink shirt) with my Grandma & his brother & sisters; Uncle Dave on far right, my mummy next to him, Uncle Carl, Auntie Michelle and cousin Sadie); the Forde kids with their parents/my grandma & gramps (Uncle Dave at the front in the England football shirt)
Uncle Dave & my mum with baby me in 1992; Uncle Dave & Auntie Miche with 3(?) year old me in 1995 maybe
photos from top left to bottom right: Uncle Dave (on the far right in the blue hoodie) with my mum, his siblings and friends in the 70s/80s(?); Uncle Dave (second in from the right) with his family Christmas 1989; Uncle Dave holding my sister Cherelle at her Christening in 1997; My grandma’s birthday in 2005 (Uncle Dave second in from the left, on the back row)
It’s been 8 years and this never gets any easier. Early 2007 was the hardest time of my life so far, how do you deal with losing two family members you were so close to, within 8 months of eachother, when you’re only 14 years old? I dealt with it the only way I knew how; keeping my thoughts to myself. I’m not one for talking about my emotions, writing this blog post is the first time I’ve really said any of this stuff where anyone can hear it. Thankfully, I have a very supportive and loving family; through our times of grief we’ve come together and tried to make sure we’re living a good quality of life, which is what Uncle Dave and my Gramps would’ve wanted.
David Forde was a truly wonderful man, uncle, brother, son, cousin, nephew and friend. I miss you every single day Uncle Dave; we have family parties, we do Christmas and New Year together,we go on holiday together, we have family group photos but they will forever be incomplete without you. I’m sure you’re up there having a great laugh at my expense at some of the things that go on in my life; there’s so much I’d love to tell you! I will treasure the memories we had with you forever and ever – I wish you were here to see the woman I’ve become, I’m proud of myself and I hope you’re proud of me too. I love you.