I grew up thinking my father spent his life on a long and enticing holiday; the reality was that he worked very hard but was home that day because he was unwell. My brothers and sisters went to school. My mother and I went to her weekly tennis match.
My memory of the remainder of the day is more dream than reality; safest that way I think.
My mother did not win at tennis. One of my brothers was expelled, one was in a fight and one skipped school. One of my sisters failed a test and one of them cut her foot on the way home - the top of her sock was caked with dried blood, the rest of it was wet and warm.
It seems we all arrived home at the same time and together we learnt that my father had died. A severe heart attack had taken him while he was running a bath. The reality was that my eldest brother was home first and had found him. If he was face down in the tub with taps still running and water spilling from the bath I cannot tell. We've never discussed the details. I know only one fact - he was dead.
There is an additional dream-memory attached to this one - it's of my mother and me sitting in our old station-wagon outside the cemetery. She cried uncontrollably. I could not help, so I cried too.
Author of The Ordinary Animals