Another farewell

Today a call to say our much loved friend Martin had died in the early hours this morning. 75, his birthday just celebrated in style at one of his favourite spots in Edinburgh, live jazz playing as people ate fine food, drank too much wine and told tall tales.

We knew all of him – his light and his shade. He hid nothing. He was exasperating, rude, combative and thoughtless. He was a tremendously loyal friend, wonderfully charming, funny, quick witted, irreverent, generous, full of life and mischief, a man who seized life and got the most out of every last drop of it.

A brickie to trade from a Scottish working class family he got involved in the communist party and then trade unions and through that got an education finally at university. He loved the arts, theatre, dance, music and generously took us all to see shows with him. He wore outrageous red suits, purple suits with dragon flies on them, suits with alternating blacks and whites on jacket and trousers. He loved being the centre of attention. Everyone in Edinburgh knew M and those that didn’t often found him introducing himself.

He had such a zest for life, for company, for fun.

Everyone has a tale to tell about M that makes them laugh.

And he came to stay in China with me for two weeks at the end of my marriage – he came to show support. Amazing loyalty and caring.

So this morning his heart finally gave out and my friend of 30 years, this larger than life,unique, incredibly brilliant man ended his 75 years on earth. What a life he led and how he will be missed by many.

I mourn my friend and feel keenly the loss of all he was.

Bye pal.

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A farewell

And so the day started. Sunshine over Sutton Harbour. Dad always liked such days as the sun rose over the boats and poured in through the window.

He would have enjoyed his farewell. Lots of people came to mark his long life and to say goodbye. His military service recognised by a standard bearer who followed him in to the church and stood respectfully by his side throughout. My sisters poem and words reminding all of his passions. My brother’s eulogy, beautifully crafted to bring to life Dads humour, his spirit of adventure and zest for life, his hard work and his love for and support of his family and friends. The vicar got tangled in overcomplicated analogies about departures, airports and prisons but that was but a small blip really – surprisingly some others seemed to find it helpful. Wine, sandwiches and stories about Dad were shared.

I cried at almost everything of course. One of Dad’s pressed white handkerchiefs came in handy. John held my hand tight at my most wobbly moments. Following Dad in and out of the church was incredibly emotional. My Dad, my much loved Dad. We four so very different individuals said farewell and he would have been proud of our combined efforts to make a fitting farewell for him, such a very fine man, our father.

The sun held til our return back to Dad’s flat. Perhaps appropriate that the earlier bright scene was replaced by rolling clouds and later rain.

Bye Dad. I shall miss you always.

It’s the little things

It’s the little things I miss:

Hearing you potter down the corridor to the loo in the night

Listening to you say you didn’t sleep a wink when enthusiastic snoring was there to be heard loud and clear that night

Breakfast with the sun’s rays pouring in – the red table cloth I bought you for Christmas one year that you so loved, grapefruit always, bacon sometimes, an egg boiled just the right amount of time mostly, sliced brown warburton bread a must

Watching you consult your diary for what was coming up and to check you had the right day and time for my next visit

Coming in to say goodnight at the end of the day and a last sleepy conversation

Watching you put your favourite checked cap on as we left the house and making sure you had your keys in your back pocket

Chatting in the Rover as we headed out for yet another medical thing or much better a drive up to park on the Hooe for a coffee with a view, a meal out at some of your favourite haunts, a visit to see Nick or Geoff, a trip out over Dartmoor.

Watching you tuck into a Moules dish – complete silence and ultimate concentration

Listening to some of the same familiar stories and being surprised now and then by a new one

Watching you open the morning’s post with your silver letter opener

Looking up from the sofa to see you there

Trying to see how many Mastermind questions we could answer between us

Our mutual teasing over the differing versions of the news of the day as shown in your Telegraph and my Guardian

Hearing you say ” it’s been a good day”

I miss all those little things and more

Lots of tears but that’s ok because I’m missing you

A new year without you

It’s been so long now that i’ve worked my life around visits to you, planned and suddenly needed that I wonder how 2018 will be without that. Dates booked for trains, painstakingly written down by you in your yellow diary – Susi arrives 12.56, Susi here, Susi leaves 14.55. Each time after writing them down you’d say “oh good”. They meant so much to us both. Your joy at my arrival as I called out at the door and your grumpiness the day I was to leave “I hate it when you go”. So scattered across the diary were these entries punctuated with medical appointments for all the different parts of your body that weren’t working so well and monthly Masons meetings. Your diary was consulted so regularly. Big black sometimes somewhat illegible script across its pages that had got bigger and bigger as your sight failed. I remember the search for the perfect pen. There was success at last.

Daily phone calls, sometimes many in a day when you were anxious, had lost something, couldn’t remember how to do something or just wanted another chat. Dad would come up on my phone. Will miss not seeing that on my phone in 2018.

i took at least one photo of you each visit, just in case it would be our last. So I look back now over the years since mum died and see hundreds of images of happy times shared with you out and about in Plymouth, the trips away to Chichester, Southwold, Norfolk, Surrey, Padstow, the moors and in your home. Each one captures a feeling, a conversation, a memory and they bring me comfort now.

Its only 4 days since you died but time has such a strange quality right now. Sometimes it feels like minutes since I got the call from Si and we shed tears for you, our Dad. Many tears since then, at unexpected moments, prompted by a thought, an image, a conversation, the gentle sympathy of friends. Tears on waking and remembering that never again will I watch you write those dates of my visits in your diary and break into a huge smile on my arrival. We have raised a glass to you often since Friday and shared happy memories of times with you. How you enjoyed a glass of red wine and company.

The love of a husband, friends and some family will see me through the days, weeks and months to come.

I am glad you left gently while sleeping with no pain and not alone. It’s all I wanted for you. I wouldn’t have wanted you to live on becoming less and less of who you were. So i’m grateful for that. It was time for you. You were so tired and had battled on so long despite your weakened heart. It’s just hard to start to get used to the idea of you not being there to visit, to have boiled eggs for breakfast with, to get your calls to help you find a lost pair of glasses, to laugh with, to read Edward Lear with, to hear you say you love me, to watch you snooze in the sunshine in your chair overlooking the harbour, to kiss goodnight, to say “ do you remember “ with.

It will continue to be a good life for me full of love and happiness with the many people that mean so much to me . I know this. But it will be a life without you there in the middle of it. Right now it’s hard to know how that will be as the weeks and months and years follow. A life without you. I just don’t know how that will be. What I do know is that right now I feel a huge sense of loss. My Dad.