Saturday, 7 February 2009


My father died on Wednesday night. Not a surprise; he was in hospital, gravely ill and we'd been warned.  Hospitals are careful to put the afflicted on a sliding scale these days. They believe it is helpful to the family to be kept au courant, so you have stable, seriously, gravely and dead.  As my father was a retired GP, it was difficult not to regard his final days as some kind of Busman's Holiday.  I know how this must sound, but his professional life had had death at its core - mainly its avoidance or prevention, you'll be relieved to hear - but death nevertheless. He knew death intimately, and was never frightened of it. I know this because I once asked him, and he said no, not death, and certainly not dying, and with all the palliative coshes you can get these days, well, hahaha, no, I'm not scared of dying, and neither should you be. I was about 14 at the time.

I wasn't there when he died; I'd left his side about half-an-hour previously, and now I feel strangely guilty, and a bit cheated in an odd way.  For the last twenty minutes of my final visit, I read a newspaper and wondered what to have for dinner. To think that I should have wasted these precious moments on such trivia astounds me now; I should have concerned myself with his fate. Because no matter how much I would have willed it otherwise, fate was obviously on its way to meet him.  I am left with an unbearable ache, because he was an excellent father in every way, and I really don't think I told him that often enough.  Just after Christmas, I had a charming little speech prepared in my head which would have told him how much I loved him, and how much I had always respected his example. I hope he guessed it, but experience tells us that saying these things aloud works much better than leaving them to be deduced. 

Goodness, it's tough. Death, and paperwork, and funeral directors.  Grown up stuff. 


  1. you have my condolences and my heart, dearest. xox

  2. So sorry for your loss, it's always hard how ever 'expected' it is.

  3. Very sorry to hear about your loss, Mrs P. It's good that you have such fond memories of him though. Don't be embarrassed to cry.

  4. Rest assured that he knew how much you loved him.

    Like you said, he was intimately acquainted with the other side....his Life was all about Death. I suspect that when you come face to face with it on a regular basis. You realise that it is as natural as being born. Most of us avoid it like the plague!

    I missed my Father's passing by a few hours too. My last moments were quite similar except I was trying to focus on a final presentation that I was doing at College the next day.

    He told me that he wasn't afraid..mainly to make me feel better..and that's what I will tell my children. I told him that I loved him and said I'll see you tomorrow...which never happened.

    That was 1980 and I still have little chats all the time. I've said my piece before, during, and after extraordinary days and funny little nothing moments. I try to model my parenting skills on his example. He was patient, gentle and quiet. I am not, so I really need him. The main thing that we shared was an exhobitant amount of curiousity, so I make that "our" thing.

    I hope that when all the adult stuff is settled, and you've gone through the formalities that you will quickly find that quiet place where the two of you can meet.
    This past week I attended the funeral for a friend's Mother, a grand lady. It was a brilliant positive reflection that celebrated her essence.

    Just remember how insanely lucky you were, and be the best you that you can be. As a Father I know that nothing is more rewarding...and above all else, know that he knew.

    xxx ooo

  5. sorry for your loss. your piece brought back memories.

  6. Condolencies, and 5 vouchers for indulgence in outrageously childish things. How might you spend them?

  7. From your description of it, your relationship with him was wonderful. That is a great thing to have had, and I am sorry that you now have only its memory.

  8. So sorry to hear your news, Mrs. P. It is indeed grown-up stuff: I rather think we never feel like fully-fledged adults until this point. There will always be regrets at unfinished business - life is never that tidy - but the memories will be stronger.

  9. Very touching, Mrs. P - I'm sorry it's about such a sad subject.

  10. Bad luck, dear. Don't feel too bad about not being there for the moment of death: you were there for the moment of life, which is the more important.

    Good luck with the grown up stuff. Don't be too proud to let the inner child have a cuddle when she needs it.

  11. You have the deepest sympathy of all the Boyos Mrs P, and do let us know if there's anything we can do.

  12. I do believe, Mrs. P, that he was waiting for you to leave before he slipped away. People do that sometimes. My stepfather did that when my Mum stepped out to get a bite to eat.

    My own father, on the other hand, waited until my youngest sister arrived from the other end of the country. She hadn't been in the room 5 minutes and he breathed his last. But when my oldest sister wailed at his passing, you could see him struggle to try and come back to help his first born. I had to hold her and tell her to shhhh and let him go. He was riddled with cancer and only 56.

    If this is the kind of life experience you need to become a full-fledged adult, then I am old as dirt at the age of 50. I have lost both parents, my oldest sister, a husband, two cousins, a school chum and my brother's girlfriend. They all hurt but I think my sister's death in a car crash was the worst - she and I were best friends as well as sisters.

    My heart aches for you, Mrs. P. It knows what you are feeling, and also knows that in time, the pain will dim and the memories will flourish.

    Warm hugs to you.

  13. Deepest sympathy. The paperwork and funeral directors are there to keep your mind off the loss. We're all going to die, to quote Malcolm Middleton. Then of course your dad knew that.

  14. Condolences. Something that I have yet to suffer.

  15. Thank you for that lovely tribute to your Dad. My Mother passed away just before Christmas. I had sent her a card and letter [from Oz] hoping she would get it for Christmas. I unfortunately don't know if she did.
    Mark x

  16. Sorry to hear your news; you have my sympathy.

  17. My deepest condolences.

    You were *there* for him though. That would surely have meant as much to him as anything you could have said. I know that if it were me - when it's me - on deathbed and my daughter there she wouldn't need to say anything; and I'd far rather she left before the moment itself.

    I missed the passing of both my grandmothers by being out of the country pursuing my own selfish goals, and have felt lastingly guilty about it ever since.

  18. The morning my mother died I had overslept and so was still having a cup of tea in my sister's house (where I was staying to be close) and thinking it was a good thing the hospital hadn't called at 6am, as they had for the last few days. Every morning she would call for us the minute she woke, so on this particular morning, even though we knew the end was very near, we simply thought she must be getting a good long sleep.

    What is worse, we had been with her until around 1am that morning and had lied to her to get away ('just going to get a cup of coffee mum') because she didn't want us to leave and we thought our presence was preventing her from going to sleep.

    Your father will have known how much you loved him by your behaviour. I don't need my son to tell me he loves me: that he tells me off for standing on a chair to change a light bulb, with a look of abject horror on his face, says it all.


  19. So sorry. I lost my Dad the summer before last.
    It's a hard time. The hospice workers told us that people often wait until their loved ones leave the room to die. My dad took his last breath just as I re-entered his room. My Dad is always in my heart, smiling his crooked smile, telling bad jokes.
    Your Dad will always be in you heart, too.
    Take care of yourself.

  20. I do not know if you received a e-mail on my part ?
    It is a question of a father!

    Here is my thought...

    Sur une mélodie que les notes n’aimerais pas être,
    Un corps attend la vie, la mort pour son être...
    Un dernier espoir de croire qu’elle ne viendra pas,
    Qu’elle ne le prendra pas aujourd’hui dans ses bras...
    Mais quand le souffle deviens lourd, la douleur si prés,
    Pas de mensonge, on le sait, la mort commence à s’installer...

    C’est alors que l’on demande avec une pitié dans les yeux,
    Un peu de temps, un répit pour parler à ceux...
    A ceux que l’on aime, à ceux que l’on va laisser impuissant de ce combat,
    Et qui s’en voudrons de n’avoir rien fais, si n’est d’être rester là...
    La mort, elle ne prendra pas le temps de leur dire qu’ils n’y sont pour rien,
    Que c’est d’elle que le mal vient...

    Une dernier danse, celle que l’on veux pas faire trop tôt,
    Histoire de pas laisser des affaires qui serais pas ranger de sitôt…
    De reprendre son droit à remettre les pendules de sa vie à l’heure,
    C’est ironique quand commence à s’arrêter le cœur…
    Cette danse là, on ne l’aime pas,
    C’est pourtant la dernier que tous on fera... Tous on la fera...

    Well to translate it will be not simple !!!
    I stretched anyway !
    On a melody that the grades would not like to be,
    A body awaits life, the death for his being...
    A last hope to believe that she will not come,
    What she will not take it Today in its arms...
    But when the breath becomes heavy, the pain if meadows,
    No lie, one knows it, the death begins to Settle down...

    This is while one asks with a pity in the eyes,
    A little time, a respite to speak with those...
    To those that one likes, to those that one will leave powerless of this fight,
    And that itself will want some to have nothing does, so is not to be to remain there...
    The death, she will not take the time to say for them that they are not for anything,
    What this is of her that the evil comes...

    A last dance, the one that one wants not to do too early,
    History of not to leave matters that would be not to arrange as soon as...
    To resume his right to put back the clocks of his life per hour,
    It is ironic when begins stopping itself the heart…
    That dance, one does not like it,
    This is nevertheless the last one that all one will do... All one will do it...

    Of all heart with you ...and your close ones in these moments

  21. Thank you so very much. I don't really want to say anything more.

  22. What a sad and bleak month it's been for you. I'm sorry. Strength to you sweet, funny lady.