Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Roll Your Own Life (7) - Family Values

Sorry I missed a blog post last week, when you read this one everything will become clear.

I wanted to take some time out of the usual chronology of my life in gaming to talk about family. My parents were always very supportive of my gaming habits - in fact, when it comes to "The Eight", I think most of our parents were incredibly happy that we were playing D&D or gaming. I suppose that when you're raising a teenager it is reassuring to know that we were simply at each other's houses, sitting around a table with cups of tea, stretching our minds with games of fantasy rather than hanging around on the streets, drinking and shouting at cars, or whatever the typical teenagers in a small coastal town do when there's nothing better to occupy their time.

Our mums were fantastic. Usually, in the middle of a game they'd pop their heads around the door to check we were okay and to take requests for cups of tea, cake or biscuits.

When I left school and signed on for a year, spending almost every waking hour hunched over an electric typewriter writing scenarios to try and get published with West End Games (more on that in a future blogpost), I never had any hassles about getting "out there" to get a job. They may have grumbled to each other, but I didn't have any hassles to my face at least - maybe they were just happy that I wasn't being a lay-about and was being creative.

Me, Mum and Dad at my graduation, 1995
As time passed, and I went to art college, they were proud that I'd continued to feed my creative drives, and although the comic publishing empire I tried to forge failed after a year, when I started writing RPGs again, they continued to be encouraging. As each book came out they attentively looked for my name in the credits. To them, it wasn't a game-book. It was a book. Their son had been published, and I'd heard tales of my dad showing one or two of them off to the unsuspecting townsfolk in my hometown.

My dad died just a week after I signed the contracts to work on the four books that would be the new edition of Conspiracy X. He never knew about it, as he was asleep for the last week after a long battle with cancer. As you can imagine, I was devastated at his passing. The core Conspiracy X 2.0 rulebook is dedicated to him. I spent almost every second of my time working on ConX as a way of dealing with the loss - I did the most unhealthy thing you can do I suppose, I just worked through it, focusing my attention on the world of Conspiracy X, the aliens, the conspiracies, the paranormal, because if I thought too hard about the real world, the harsh truth of losing my dad would hit home and I'd become a mess.

But I kept going. Mum was an inspiration. She was determined and stubborn, and kept going through every hardship. She was paralysed in the legs by polio at the age of 7, and met my dad (who was a medic in WWII) when he was assigned as her physiotherapist when she'd grown up. She could walk (with assistance) until after my dad died, then, despite being wheelchair-bound, she still continued to be one of the most positive and cheery people you could meet.

Me and Mum, at my Dad's 70th in 1992
Mum continued to be supportive of my work - both the day-job in the bookstore and the writing RPG books. When I started work on Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space, she was very excited, although she never watched the new series (not after Jon Pertwee left), just the tales my meetings with the BBC and travelling to Cardiff made her proud. I'm sure half of the time she was convinced I was actually writing the series itself, but a reminder every so often about "those games we used to play in the back room with the guys?" and she'd know what I was doing.

She was taken ill while I was at the screening/press conference for The Avengers (link to my blog post about it), so I've been taking every opportunity to travel back to visit. Even then, she was more concerned about me spending money to travel and taking time off of work to see her than in her own health.

Mum died last Friday, peacefully in the company of my sisters and me. I'm getting through it by doing what I did before - writing. Though even writing those last couple of sentences were hard. If it wasn't for the support of my amazing wife, my family, the Eight, and some very good friends, I think I'd still be a gibbering mess. At the moment, if I distract myself well enough I can get on with the day, but things still hit home when I least expect it and I just want to throw up, fall asleep or both in a desperate attempt to cope.

So, that's why I haven't been online for a while, and may not be as active on here as I was before, at least for the time being.

However, before I wrap up this post, I have a little request for you. When you've finished reading this, do me a little favour - if you're lucky enough to have your parents still with you, just give them a call. Tell them you love them. If you're not in this lucky position, but have someone close to you - family, spouse or dear friend - give them a hug and tell them how much you appreciate them.

Thank you.


Tyler said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Dave. Glad to hear you've got a support network to lean on when you need it. Take care of yourself and your family.

Anonymous said...

Frankie, glad to read you know we're here for you. Both your M&D were wonderful, wonderful people.
Hugs. Milo & clan

Anonymous said...

So, so sorry to hear about your loss. Much love, Joanna

David F. Chapman said...

Thank you, all of you.