My father, Alan Ruddock
Daniel Ruddock
Ten years after his dad's sudden and untimely death on a cricket pitch, Daniel Ruddock remembers a wonderful parent and an exceptional Sunday Independent journalist.
For him, it was probably a pretty decent way to go. He'd just hacked a four with a trademark swipe into the legside, the sun was shining, and he was playing cricket on the same team as all three of his boys. A moment later, he toppled to the ground and was gone.
I was umpiring down the other end, and what started as a stifled laugh at my dad falling over, quickly turned into a panicked run to his side. We were in the hills at Rathdrum in Wicklow, and despite the best efforts of some of the other players, when the ambulance eventually turned up, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Myself, Matthew and Cameron were there, which we are all thankful for in some way - mum wasn't. The most heartbreaking thing about that day, looking back, is thinking about the call she got from a family friend.
Or the news being broken to my grandad, who did not deserve to have to bury his son.
My dad, Alan Ruddock, was 49 when he died. It's 10 years since that day and it's still seared into the brain, more like a collection of photographs than a feature-length film. Ready and waiting whenever you want to go over it again.
The trip into the shop before the game, the fall, the wait for the paramedics, the surreal feeling of following him down the M11 and seeing mum for the first time - it's all there.
The funeral and the general time after that is a bit more of a blur. It was a mad time; despite being sad, there was that energy and perverse excitement that comes with heightened emotions.
Because of his age and the journalist he was, the funeral was packed. There were people coming from everywhere to tell you how great your dad was.
There was the strange moment of walking in a seemingly infinite loop around the small graveyard in Kinneagh, mum shaking hands with all our friends lined up in their school uniforms.
People came back to our house in Carlow afterwards and, not joking, they talked about it for years as one of the great parties. We are a strange nation.
Matt was 20 at the time, I was 18 and Cam 15. The two of us had the Leaving and Junior Cert starting a week after the funeral - he could have timed it better.
My mum was and is the most capable woman I know. Anything you throw at myself or my brothers, she will stand in front of us and smash it back at you. Death was no different.
She took it all on herself; maybe once she broke down in front of me. We were nearly grown-ups, but not quite - we still needed her to be our mum. She'd lost the love of her life, but not even for a second did she falter in front of her kids.
We are eternally grateful for that.
There was no bigger flirt in the world than dad with a deadline. In his later years he mostly wrote for this paper, and without fail the alarm went off too early on a Saturday morning, and he wouldn't be finished until he really had to be.
He always got it done though, and it was always brilliant. Whether it was using a dodgy dongle in France after a couple of pints post a Heineken Cup final, or just in his office at home in Carlow, he wrote better than anyone.
Reading his articles back, he also wrote with such conviction and confidence, and that's how he was in person as well. Whether he was calling out former taoisigh (which ended up in the High Court in England), inept leadership or the Catholic Church, he didn't take a backward step, and always held power to account.
He was intensely proud to be Irish and felt it his duty to point out its failings. I can imagine him backing Roy Keane when the former Ireland captain lambasted friends for having fun at Euro 2012, despite the heavy defeats.
He didn't like the plucky underdog, have-a-go Irish spirit; he believed we were better than that.

When we were younger, he smoked Marlboro Reds like they were going out of fashion and, to be fair to him, they were. He gave them up, though, which left any car he drove with a cement-like block of nicotine gum in the ashtray, along with a host of empty Red Bull cans for company in the passenger seat.
He had a short fuse, but only for the small things, like noises; whether it was slamming a door at the wrong time or an empty water bottle rattling around the back seat of the car, it was never long before a world record-equalling sigh and shout.
At 28, my age now, he suffered and recovered from Hodgkin's disease. The radiotherapy that helped him beat the disease, we found out later, wasn't helpful for the cardiac arrest that killed him. It was a vaguely experimental treatment in the 1980s, and not as pinpoint as it is now.
That brush with death in his 20s is likely the reason we went on so many frankly ridiculous holidays. It was on one of those trips, when I was about 11, that I sat dad down and told him after a year of supporting Ipswich Town, it wasn't working out and I was going to go back to Manchester United.
He wasn't having any of it. He didn't appreciate any of his kids giving up on anything - once you committed to something, it was only right you followed through. Thanks to him I got to spend lots of my teenage years in tears as Ipswich yet again crashed out in the Championship playoff semi-finals.
Sport was huge between him and his kids. A constant presence at all of our games, whether it was cricket, football, GAA or rugby, he'd be there dressed in a Crocodile Dundee style wide-brimmed hat and full-length trench coat. Always silent on the sidelines, he didn't try to coach us; well, tried his best not to anyway. He wasn't a huge fan of Cam's 'tippy-tappy' football, whatever that was.
If you played well, he'd tell you; if you played badly, he'd tell you. You could always depend on his honesty.
We didn't want for anything; whatever we needed, we got. Usually in mass quantities after he saw some great sale online.
All my best memories of him revolve around sport, whether it was leaving school early to go to a World Cup qualifier at Lansdowne Road, a Heineken Cup final at the Millennium Stadium, or a trip to Manchester for the 2005 Ashes.
He backed us to do anything, but equally got out of our way and made us do it ourselves.
I think when your dad dies relatively young, what you really miss is the opportunity to know him as an adult, to become more of a friend as you try to take on the real world. I'm not sure I would have spent seven years being afraid of trying to be a journalist if he was still here.
It's difficult to process grief ten years on. The default is to remark how quickly time goes, but it's a long chunk of time. You are, for all intents and purposes, 'over it' - but he's still there somewhere every day.
It can be the moment you realise your daughter will never know one of her grandads, or during the speeches at your brother's wedding, or when your mum realises she's lost her wedding ring in the process of trying to move out of your family home.
Grief is always there - and I want it there. Only the odd time, but it's comforting in some ways to know you still care, that it still hurts.
Daniel Ruddock is news editor of Upday
** This article was first produced in the Sunday Independent and was reproduced here with the permission of the author. **

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