23 – Paddy

Why do men like me want sons?” he wondered. “It must be because they hope in their poor beaten souls that these new men, who are their blood, will do the things they were not strong enough nor wise enough nor brave enough to do. It is rather like another chance at life; like a new bag of coins at a table of luck after your fortune is gone.
From Cup of Gold by John Steinbeck

Paddy was born in 1944, but I wasn’t around to be aware of the circumstances surrounding his birth. He was the son of William and Margaret. William, my granda, was by best pal until he died in 1981. I doted on my granda. Used to love the walks he would take me on and the knowledge he would give me on these walks, real practical stuff like how to walk on a country road. And what car registration numbers meant and how to read them. Maybe not mean much to you, but to me it was everything.

I also remember how I used to go to the shops for him, I’d get him his “willy woodbines” and his dinner out of the chippy when he was ill.

I can recall in vivid detail seeing him in Belvedere hospital the week before he died. Sitting up in bed, chatting away about my entrance exams for Hutchesons and High School of Glasgow the following week and how he would be out of hospital then.

He wasn’t, he passed away in between the HSoG and Hutchesons, and I wasn’t told til after the Hutchesons’ exam.

When I was told, I screamed and ran out the door and all the way up to Todd Coster’s house. Todd’s dad had driven us to the exam that day, and I just needed to run somewhere.

They were brilliant with me as I sobbed my story at them. I was very angry that I had not been told the day he had died.

I am convinced a piece of me died that day.

Mr & Mrs Coster (I think both of them) brought me around the corner to mum and dad’s and explained what had happened.

When I shouted at my parents that granda had told me he was getting out of hospital that week so he couldn’t have died, my dad calmly took me by the hand and explained that granda knew he was going to die and did not want me to be upset in the middle of the exams, so he had asked them not to tell me.

Whether he did or not wasn’t really the point all these years later though.

My dad had his own grief at the death of his father so I would not be upset or distracted at such a key moment in my life. They carried on as normal for a full day in front of me.


After reading the initial post, Todd Coster reminded me of the following as well:

I always remember your dad as such a big man massive to a wee boy like me seemed like 8 ft tall and hands like shovels.
I also remember how he had this reputation of being a man not to messed with and not someone you would dare be cheeky to.
My memory of your dad is different, he was one of a tough guy yes, but would do no harm to anyone unless they crossed him or his families path in some negative way. Then you may see the infamous Paddy but only then.
I recall we once had an argument/scuffle on way home from school one day. I think it was about the fire hydrants which we use to call free hits if someone stood on them. Anyway, I went home probably wearing a second prize as you know I was more of a talker and runner than a fighter!! 
My mum, being well my mum, was having none of this and marched me down to your house. All the way down I am thinking this is not a good idea if Paddy’s (my nickname as well) dad is in we could be in trouble here. 
So my mum chapped the door your mum answered and told us to come in. So into the living room, we went. Your mum and my mum both agreed that we should shake hands and behave better towards each other. 
Then your dad turned around and ushered us both over, I cannot lie I was petrified. He put one of those massive hands on each of our shoulders and said: “you two boys have brains let the others fight and knock the s*%t out of each other don’t let this happen again.” And I didn’t!! 
Anytime I seen your dad in the passing in the years after that he would always ask me “you behaving” and I would always of course say “yes Mr Patterson”!! 

For all the stories about Paddy Patterson, and there are many, good, bad and downright horrid, there are moments when a genuinely loving and tender father was allowed to push its way through that hard exterior.

It was my dad that took me by the hand and explained that day, not my mum. My mum was always loving towards us and that would be expected of her.

It was my dad.

On the fourth anniversary of John McGuire (Paddy) Patterson passing away into eternity, I want to indulge myself by remembering some of the brilliant moments when it was John the dad I saw and not Paddy the Maddy.

For as long as I can remember, my dad loved hunting, both lurchers ( a greyhound like hunting dog) and ferrets, camping, fishing, and drinking. They were his hobbies. They were how he filled his time when he wasn’t climbing 100′ or higher chimney stacks, or sweeping domestic chimneys or any of the other jobs he would do.

The fishing and camping were always and as much an excuse to do the drinking part without being moaned at by my mum, at least in the later days of going, after discovering Minty and his hut.

I loved the countryside. I loved going out with the ferrets, and especially the dogs, it did not matter whether it was with Billy McGarritty or George or any of the other guys that would transport us. I loved it because out there my dad was a different guy. He was in awe of the countryside, and he was very good at hunting.

He knew how to pick the right sort of lurcher and he knew how to use a ferret to catch rabbits in burrows.

He was also at his most gentle when he was out there. Still every inch the man, just kind and considerate and would go to great lengths to explain what he was doing and how to do it.

One of the greatest feelings was watching my dad watching the dogs chase down a hare and make the kill. Some people may frown on that and call it barbaric, whilst they munch on their Big Mac. It was what we knew and it was a part of growing up. Tiger and Susie were two lurches we had, at different times and they both excelled. It was a thing of beauty to watch nature being natural. And more hares escaped than were caught. Those that were caught were eaten by us. The circle of life. Taught to me by my dad. It gave me an appreciation for the countryside and wildlife that could never be got through books or college lectures.

He loved it when I started going out with Billy McG jr and friends of my own hunting. My first time in trouble with the police was actually for poaching around the age of 14. Gamekeepers out with their shotguns, on a hunt, decided that us boys should not be out with ferrets and dogs. They called the police and then, the whole lot of them approached a group of young teenage boys in a field with their loaded shotguns in their arms.

We were all searched and taken to a police station in the back of a van a few miles way. When I say that we were all searched, Billy McGarritty had a big hunting coat on and still manage dot go through the whole experience with a rabbit in his pocket, and not get it found. We got cautioned and kicked out of the station. I asked how we were meant to get back to the bus stop.

“Walk!” The desk sergeant said.

“But its miles away” I replied.

“Walk,” he said again ‘And don’t come back”

As we walked down the road, Billy pulled the rabbit out. We were killing ourselves laughing at that all the way home.

I think, at the time my dad wore it as a badge of honour because we were caught in an area he had shown us. His son was not in trouble for any bad stuff, but for poaching.

Ardmore Point!

In between Cardross and Craigendoran was the Patterson men’s heaven on earth. A little piece of land that butted out into the Clyde.

Way back as far as the late 70’s we used to go there camping and fishing. It would be an ordeal getting all the massive backpacks loaded with old style canvas tents and everything needed for our weekend at the point.

Campbell McKnight and others would join us. Off we went on the train to Cardross, then a walking the couple of miles to the Point, often along the train tracks. I know it that would be frowned upon now, but it was just a Boys Own adventure then.

Water would be taken from one of the natural wells in the private grounds from the Big White House in the middle of Ardmore. That was always an adventure. As was the cooking apples from the private orchards and making our own jam.

One instance, in particular, stands out though. I was about 8 or 9 years old and the usual crowd were all there. It was night time and it was dark, except for the light casting across the Clyde from Port Glasgow. Stars shining brightly above and a cool, perfect evening. All the men used to boast about how far they could cast their beachcasters out, with Campbell normally getting about 2 to 300 feet (or maybe even yards).

I was getting to fish tonight. My dad took his time and calmly showing me how to hold the rod and line in my hands in order to whip it forward.

Meekly I pulled the beach caster back and to cast the baited line out to sea. You could hear the noise of it whipping through the air for what seemed like an eternity. It was less than a second and I think that it landed about 15′ out.

Hahahah!!! The laughs could be heard coming from the men as they began to slag my attempts.

“Leave him ya bunch of ….., or I’ll ……. batter yis”.

“But he needs to get it out mair thin that Paddy, or eel no catch anyhin”, said one of them.

“Shut it ah said” retorted my dad.

Only minutes later the end of the beachcaster began to dance wildly, a sign that a fish had bit, as I reeled the line in it was obvious that I had hooked a fish. A small coalfish I, as I recall.

I remember, as my dad unhooked the fish, he turned to the others with a triumphant smirk across his face, “thats ma boy” he said, genuine pride beaming out. Not only did I catch the first fish of the night, I caught the only one that night.

Fast forward a wee bit, to my first day at Hutchesons’. It was my dad that brought me across the city on the two buses. He took me to the school gate, and he said, full of fatherly love and wisdom, “Right, I’ll see ye laiter then.” (He was a Glaswegian after all).

And he did, he was there as school came out that day, he showed me what buses I had to get and as we got home and through the door, “Yir able to dae that yirsel noo”.

I was 11 years old. It was a different age, but even then it hit me that I was being trusted with bussing myself across the city.

There were many arguments, many disagreements, and many, many, many miserable times with Paddy Patterson my dad, but my next moment was when I was in the height of my addiction. It caused a lot of arguments between my mum and my dad as mum would never allow him to kick me out. He just did not know what to do with me or how to deal with it. One moment, though, he allowed the hardness to melt for a moment. We lived in Ervie Street at the time, and I was in a particularly bad way. Only my dad and I were in the house. I was wrecked out of my head, and I walked into the living room and asked him for a roll-up (hand rolling tobacco). He looked me straight in the eye and very calmly and gently said: “When I think of the man you should have been!”


And again, OUCH!

Probably the most fatherly thing he ever said to me. I knew then what he meant, and even now some 20 odd years later I still know. He cared, and it hurt him that he was helpless. Anyone that knew my dad will know that helplessness was never something you would associate with him.

Another quick moment, I have been with Teen Challenge in South Wales for a year and a half before I return to Glasgow for a visit. I had seen my Mum and my sis, Yvonne in that time but not my dad. My first visit back, I walk through the opening in our ground floor (by this time we had the bottom and middle flats in 2 Ervie Street converted to one house) into the kitchen. My dad stood over the cooker. He hadn’t seen or really even spoken to me (other than the odd manly grunt over the phone) in all that time.

“Hiya I’m making the dinner, you ok.” (it was one of his pots, I’m going to get our Neil at some point to try and describe them).

It was so normal, it was as if I hadn’t been away. No great emotion, no hugs. Just hiya, you want some dinner.

I had never had a normal moment with my dad since I left Hutchesons’ about 14 years before that. It was what I needed.

“Aye,” I said as I walked into the living room to hide the tears in my eyes. I loved that moment. I have talked about it many times.

His speech at my wedding, (we won’t talk about how he got there, those that know, know. I know why he came the way he did and why he was the way he was because I had a grown-up conversation with him about it and he told me). He was bursting with pride, and very nervous. And I loved every one of the very few words he spoke.

My eldest bother JP passed away in December 2002 through very tragic and ironic circumstances. For another time.

My beautiful mum passed away in April 2010, months after Tracy, the girls and I moved from Ireland back to Scotland. I want to maybe talk about that separately as I believe how God helped me through that time may help others.

Fast forward to when Easterhouse Community Church had not long started.

We were meeting in Blairtummock Housing Association’s hall. It was around summer time in 2011, and I remember feeling quite disappointed that things did not seem to be working out the way I thought they would. I always hung about outside the door, with expectation about who may come along, even out of curiosity, out of those I knew.

Once the meeting started, I did the lyrics etc, and I had made a decision that during the praise I would not be distracted by looking back to see who had come in. Praise was about thanking God for who He is and what He had done and was doing through Christ’s death on the cross, and subsequent resurrection. This was now my reason for living, not who I wanted to see at a church service

One particular evening my overflowing, abundant faith resulted in a prayer something like this, “God who am I trying to kid with this, I cannot even persuade my own family too come”

I was genuinely very dejected that evening. I still made the decision to praise God for who He is.

As the music finished, and I began to turn around I remember catching a strange smile on Tracy’s face.

There, only two rows behind me were my youngest brother Neil, my sister Yvonne and right beside them, my dad.

It was one of the best moments in my experience of ECC. He was an ever-present visitor form that moment on. Dad and Neil used to also go to the Teen Challenge cafe in Port Glasgow after our meetings I loved watching him respond in those meetings, and even some of our conversations in his house afterwards. When we movied to the new hall in Shandwick and his health began to deteriorate, he wasn’t able to make our stairs.

(Note to readers, that is still an urgent problem of Easterhouse Community Church, we need to get a stairlift fitted to enable more infirm and elderly to attend if you can help please contact me).

Wesley Owen bookshop in Glasgow city Centre (it is now Faith Mission). My dad and I looking for a Christian book he could and would read, and a large print Bible. I never thought in my wildest dreams I would be in a Christian bookshop with Paddy Patterson. So he could buy a book!!! With God all things are possible.

My dad’s health deteriorated very quickly over the next couple of years. He had COPD and it began to take its toll. As he moved into the end stages, Yvonne pretty much took care of all his needs. She was absolutely brilliant with him.

We used to joke about him taking up this timeshare in Glasgow Royal Infirmary he was there that often.

He was a great patient, to begin with, but not at the end.

December 2013 we were all gathered around him in Monklands hospital, convinced we were witnessing his last hours. Last rites had been said. We laughed, cried and slaggeD the old git.

He was out of it, his breathing was laboured and rasping, but somehow he came round and we got an orderly. We were kicked out of the room whilst the orderly attended to him.

Dad did the toilet, (sorry but that’s what happened) and was fully revived. You had to be there to see the difference in him. It was ridiculous what happened, and how it happened, but that was Paddy.

He got out, by some miracle, Went back in (to GRI) got out, went back in and then pretty much stayed in.

By this time his short-term memory was gone. I would get a phone call after leaving and he would say’ “Thought you were coming for a visit”. The early frustration at his lapses in memory were by this time filled with sorrow. “I told you I will be up tomorrow, dad” which was the truth. No point in telling him I had just left. It only confused and upset him.

The night he died, we gathered around his bed. Naomi and I had been up to see him before the football, Celtic were playing at home. He was in a very bad away and curtained off. Yvonne was there providing all the bed care for dad and genuinely being a hero. She did not think it wise to let Naomi see him that way, but Naomi had been promised she could. Naomi was very good with dad, we only stayed a few seconds. We all gathered around dad’s bed that night. By then he was on morphine, a lot of morphine. He would periodically wake up in pain. I sat quietly praying.

At one point, not long before dad slipped away, he woke up, looked around us all with eyes blazing and said, “I’m still here ya b@#$%&*s” and then slipped back into sleep.

Around 5.30am on Sunday 2nd March 2014 my dad, Paddy Patterson slipped into eternity with that same stubborn arrogance that had made him a survivor his whole life.

The quote at the top of this post from the John Steinbeck novel, was about a pirate, Henry Morgan believing that men had sons so their sons could do the things they were not brave enough, strong enough or able enough to do.

I genuinely believe my dad always wanted his kids to be better, stronger, braver. In glimpses that shone through. Most obviously for me with “When I think of the man you should have been”

Love you dad, and miss you.

Today 2nd March 2018 is the 4th anniversary of my dad’s passing. I just wanted to indulge in a few of the good moments. This particular post may be added to as time goes by.

This blog is part of a wider collection to show the journey that would eventually lead me to the cross of Jesus Christ, my personal redemption, and my journey of faith afterwards. If you would like to know more of my story, please click on my “About” page and take it from there.

Alternatively, you can visit the Media Links page and see a short visit done by BBC Radio Scotland for an interview I did there.

If you or someone you love, needs help with the Christian response to addiction, or if you would just like to know more or need hope, please click on one of the following:

The Haven
Teen Challenge Strathclyde
Teen Challenge UK
Teen Challenge Global
Street Connect
Bethany Christian Trust
Cornerstone Assemblies of God, Maryland
Broken Chains Ayr
Easterhouse Community Church
Stuart Patterson