After I closed the front door that Sunday, I had no idea that it would be the last time I would see my dad alive. It had been a typical weekend with family and we had just had a nice meal. Dad had been his usual daft self as he said “see you son” as he walked to the car. He drove off and that was it. Life was to drastically change the next day. Death is a strange, almost taboo subject to talk about – in the western world anyway. What ever your beliefs are around death and what happens after (if anything), it happens to us all. We just don’t like to think about it happening to someone we know and love. The grieving process is different for everyone and can take months or years, but time helps. You just never forget – you don’t want to forget when someone makes such a huge impact in your life.
Dad had found out earlier in the year he had prostate cancer. He opted to have the gland removed rather than go through any form of therapy. The day had arrived for the operation and mum left him reading his book in bed at the hospital. He didn’t want her waiting about there and I was to drive mum back later. Well later came and no news. After a weirdly prolonged hug from my youngest son we headed off. My older brother was waiting for us outside and we then walked to the ward. We asked the nurses if we could see dad and they looked at each other awkwardly. My Spidey senses were tingling at the point. “If you could come to this room and the Consultant will come and speak to you”. My heart rate shot up and I remember my whole head going numb with panic. When the Consultant entered the room, we could see by his face it wasn’t good news. He looked distraught and went on to tell us dad had died in surgery. They had tried for ages to bring him back but couldn’t. The operation went well and was being finalised when dad’s heart stopped. The Consultant was visibly shaken by the experience and my attention momentarily, was on him and how he must be feeling. He advised dad was in the room next door if we wanted to see him. Mum had to go and sit down so I entered the room with my brother. There he was in bed looking like he was sleeping. He had a wry grin on his face, maybe from the resuscitation process, but he just looked at peace. I just stared blankly for a while, kissed his forehead and left the room. I can’t remember if I called my wife or she called me but I verbally struggled to let know what had happened. Her dad had died in surgery too, so lightning had struck twice on that front. We had to let my younger brother know too as he was heading down to London on a train. Our focus was now on mum though as we headed for home – all I can say it was the strangest, messed up feeling I have ever experienced.
Death makes Angels of us allJim Morrison
The days leading up to the funeral were as expected, a bit of an emotional blur. All the admin stuff when someone dies keeps your mind occupied for a while. Explaining to my boys that grampy had died and hoping all along that they would remember something of him. They were only young though at the time of his passing. One thing if you recall, was that my youngest had given me the longest hug ever before we went to the hospital. He hasn’t hugged me for that long before or since the event. I’ve often wondered if that was my dad’s spirit channeling through him to give me one last ‘physical’ hug. The jury is open on that but it offers a source of comfort thinking it may have been. The support we had from the funeral directors, family, friends and dad’s work was immense. It was literally the measure of the man – the deep feeling and regard that people had for him. His life had evolved to it’s end. Son and brother, Anthony and Tony, husband, from daddy to dad, pops, grampy and his nickname from a few of us, Chevy (as in Chase).
Everything gonna be alright this mornin’Mannish Boy – Muddy Waters
The day of the funeral I wake up and I’m happy. All I can think about are good memories, the life that dad gave us, his laugh, his smile and his mannish boy qualities. If there is one thing dad didn’t do in his life, it was doing a book of dad jokes. He was at his happiest hearing people groaning at one of his multitude of crap jokes. I had actually booked tickets for him to go and see Tim Vine later that year which in hindsight wasn’t a great idea. It would’ve just given him more horrors to unleash on people. I remember him being sat with an elderly neighbour when she was in hospital. Dad was asking when she would be allowed to come home and she said “I won’t be coming home Tony, it’s my time” Dad said “you can’t die Mrs M, I’ve bought you a Christmas present” she was howling with laughter. She passed away that night bless her, but I think that sums dad up. He always liked to see people happy. Anyway – a bit of an ADHD tangent there – I was in a very different place emotionally to many that day. If someone had asked me before if I could speak at a funeral I’d say no chance. I could’ve that day for sure. People were standing out the back of the church when we arrived, it was packed out. It was a lovely service for him but again, all a bit of an emotional blur. Peter Kay in his stand up routine, does a story about a funeral and a packet of Quavers. During the burial an empty packet blows across the grave site. The widow clings to the thought that it was her dead husband giving a sign “he loved quavers” she says. Well, as dad’s coffin was being lowered, the sun broke through the clouds and the rays shone down. I looked up and smiled. I just felt pure love.
We’re stardust remember? We’re made up of the same chemicals as all of nature.Dr Wayne Dyer
If you would like to find out more about prostate cancer, get support or donate click here https://prostatecanceruk.org/
An option for bereavement support is in this link, but check online locally too https://www.cruse.org.uk