Is that the time?
Everyone from the funeral director to the minister was befuddled by the kitchen clock – indeed all the clocks in the house, and there are many. A little foible of MTL was to have all the clocks ten minutes fast. When the clocks needed to be changed he would sweetly offer to do my watch and now, for the first time in 30 odd years my watch tells me the correct time – thanks to one of the boys. It does save a lot of calculations.
When he first became ill, with atrial fibrillation and then later cancer, I determined I wasn’t going to spoil what was left of our time together by living in fear. It worked and we both remained positive. However during the last month or so I awoke feeling dreadfully sad. I thought maybe I was getting depressed and thought about getting some happy pills from the doctor.
I think we both knew our time together was coming to an end and we seemed to be enveloped in a loving tenderness stronger than ever. I miss his sweet smile, holding his hand whenever we were close and his warm embrace when we passed going about our daily chores. And the loving teasing.
I thought at first - that’s it now! The worst has happened – but I daren’t tempt fate –there are still precious souls here on earth. Most of the time I’m coping and concentrating on keeping life as normal as possible. I was told about a bereavement group today but I’m not sure it would be right for me. Joy – who lost her husband almost a year ago understands how it is and we give each other a boost when necessary, which is a great comfort.
I wanted the service to be a celebration of his life. He used to say ’Why does no-one ever mention Jesus these days?’ So one of the hymns was Jesus bids us shine with a pure clear light which I used to sing at Sunday School, and the minister made a point of using readings that mentioned Jesus.
I asked the five children – all grown up with families of their own if they would like to say something about their father/step- father. Two knew they wouldn’t be able to and three said they wanted to but may not be able to. The minister advised them to write it out and if they couldn’t cope he would read it for them.
I suggested that they practised by reading it out loud to me till they got bored with it - but they didn’t want to do that.
Finally I said: ‘Imagine Dad is on trial and if you blub he’ll be shot!’
‘No pressure then!’ said our French son.
In the end the three of them spoke with such love - bringing out his humour, his goodness, his tiger hunts with the grandchildren in the woody part of the garden – armed with his antique pistols, showing them the badger trails with the claw marks - proof positive there were tigers there - and they didn’t falter.
I was so proud of them and also the way they all mingled with the guests at the reception, so that everybody knew who was who.
My eyes misted when his elder son said the last 33 years of his father’s life had been the happiest.
Nancy, the kid sister of two of his Scottish pals who used to play with MTL and his big brother when they were children wrote ‘A was the quiet, helpful one. D and L led the band but it was A who stayed behind to help me jump the stream or jump from the high barn door.’
His daughter said he was an early version of Google.
My granddaughter Alice in
at Uni wrote: Florida
You and I were both so lucky to have such a kind, loving man in our family, and I have only the fondest memories of him. I’m sure I seem very far away, but we can be close in our thoughts of Grandpa, who I know adores you, and I’m so grateful that he is part of our family.
Our youngest son said:
He left us suddenly, but not unexpectedly. He would be pleased to go out like that- in a flash-without protracted suffering. But he would deeply regret leaving behind his beloved Pat, and all his extended family.
Sheila, my help, sat with Karen the gardener, Mick the handyman and Jan his wife and she said when ‘Loch Lomond’ was played they all fell apart. Another misty moment for me.
The organist said afterwards he had never heard such tributes.
Years ago – when Dad died, I found looking after Mum at the funeral helped me to hold it together. Similarly this time the five children and grandchildren were my priority.
I wanted MTL to be proud of me.
Sometimes one goes down and down. Then very slowly a gentle breeze composed of family, friends, loving thoughts and memories raise you up again.
You know who you are.
P.S. For cancer sufferers please note that we beat the cancer. His surgeon told me all the tests after his treatment were negative.