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Photo Challenge – Memories of Dad

I have launched a Photo A Day Challenge on Instagram (@Imnotdrunklifestyle), the idea around it is to take a photo each day and appreciate life.

Photo Challenge

When dealing with HD you can forget to take in the here and now, you go through the motions and rush from day to day. Trying to take care of your loved one, or deal with the disease yourself.

Take a step back and look up to the sky, watch the clouds, appreciate the beauty of a sunset or spend time with friends and family. The idea of documenting it in a photo is to remind us, there is always time. We all have very busy lives, but take 5 minutes a day to remember you need to live.

‘’Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live’’.Natalie Babbitt

Today’s photo (Day 4) is one of my brother Ryan skiing on Lough Erne, the theme of this photo was sky. I have chosen this photo because here in Ireland you can’t wait on the sunshine to have fun! We are very lucky to own our own boat and spend a lot of our summer on Lough Erne. If we waited for the sunny days, our boat (General Lee) would have been sold years ago and I wouldn’t have the amazing memories I do of my dad.

My dad loved to ski and spend his time on Lough Erne, we are extremely lucky that a friend made a lot of video’s of these times. Ryan and I love to watch them, we never got to see Dad ski (not that I can remember anyway) .

Dad, Leslie and John Lough Erne Many Many Years Ago!!

I can remember spending my summers on the lake with dad, Ryan and family. We spent weekends camping on the islands around Lough Erne, and dad taught Ryan to ski and taught me to knee board.

Ryan, Stuart and Colin (Stuart is Leslie’s Son and Colin is his brother) Its A Family Thing!!

I was incredibly lazy!! And I didn’t bother to learn to ski when dad could teach me, so as usual my brother stepped up and taught me. I am incredibly grateful for this as it resulted in me spending three summers in America teaching water sports and obtaining my New York PV Boating License. This wasn’t easy, as we also had dad to look after, but Ryan and I made it work. It’s never easy caring for someone, but you also need to live your life. Yes, caring for dad did result in me missing out on different experiences or events, but it didn’t stop me living my life, I just made different choices. Ryan and I always supported each other, and although it wasn’t always perfect we made do, Ryan took a trip to America over Christmas when dad was In respite and a summer lad’s holiday to Spain when I could manage dad on my own. I spent two summers in America when Ryan and mum could manage (this was 7 years ago) and the third summer dad was spending a lot of time in respite and getting a lot of extra support. The third trip to America was planned to help me emotionally. I was seriously struggling with the caring responsibilities and I was lucky enough to be able to go back to the place that made me very happy. I needed this time away, it gave me the chance to recharge, when I arrived home I was ready to take over the world again and get back to dad. I lost my voice, to speak about HD and stand up for myself, but this summer away gave me my voice back.

I can water ski, slalom, wake board and drive a speed boat or cruiser. I have my dad to thank for this, although he wasn’t to one to teach me it all, he introduced Ryan and I to this lifestyle. People might think I’m crazy calling it a lifestyle but if you knew my brother and our friends, I truly believe it is a lifestyle the amount of time we spend on the water.

Wake boarding 2017 America (6am)

Dad never got the chance to see me ski, slalom or wake board, this is yet another life experience HD has taken away from me.

I returned home from America in 2013 and had learnt to Slalom ski, my boss at the camp Rockne taught me, and honestly his teaching methods were a lot like dads. I was skiing along on two ski’s and kicked one off, (this was the basic way to learn to slalom) I went along for a few minutes and fell. So with one ski, I was floating in the water and Rockne told me to try getting up on one ski, after 4 attempts I got it and haven’t looked back since. A good friend Anny, (@ajw_skier) worked two of the summers with me at camp, and I owe my ability to slalom to her, she gave me tips and hints as she is an amazing skier and I can barely hold my own!!

Stuart and I (Lough Erne)

So I want to thank Rockne for teaching me something my dad never got the chance to and Anny for perfecting my skills, however rough they are. I’m sorry you lost me to the wake boarding 😀 😀

When I got back to Northern Ireland, I lifted dads slalom ski, which had not been taken from our ski shed in about 25 years, since dad’s plane crash. I took the ski out with me this day on the boat and dad was actually out with us this particular Sunday. This I believe was the last Sunday dad was on the boat, it was too dangerous trying to get dad in and out of the speed boat and walking him down the jetty/dock made my heart jump into my ass!!

Ryan, Stuart and Colin getting ready to do the triangle Pamela and I driving the Boat

I put the ski on, and away I went, dad was on the end of the jetty/dock watching. Although he was there watching me, it didn’t feel like he was, when I got back to the jetty/dock he didn’t say anything, it’s almost as If it didn’t register with him. This made me sad, I just wanted a pat on the back, I know that seems stupid but it’s something I never received from my dad. He got sick when I was very young and in the beginning of our HD journey dad wasn’t himself. I know now that dad would be proud of me, of at least that’s what people tell me. It would have been nice for him to be able to say these words. His speech is that bad now even if he wanted to, he can’t.


I still got to have this life experience and dad loves looking at our pictures out on the lake, and I know he is proud of us, I just wish he could be there with us.

My dad attended the Lough Erne Boat Rally every year for about 30 years, due to HD he couldn’t make the weekend long trip on the lake anymore. Ryan and I will always be on the Rally with dads Rally flags; I do believe he has one of the biggest collections!! We always remember dad as the amazing water skier he was, the man who took part in the Lough Erne Skiathalon and the man who introduced us to water sports.

In every sad memory there is a positive one!!

Ryan and I

Real Life water sports in Northern Ireland!!

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