Finally

I have been somewhat distracted for the last six months. Finding it hard to focus. Book promotions, working on current books, my own writing, it has been difficult to get the impetus to deal with it.

On Friday, 24th July, my father’s ashes were interred. If you’ve been around a while you’ll know he died of a pulmonary embolism, pretty much instantly and painlessly, on February 14th. Nearly six damn months ago. The ineptitude of the NHS Wales coroner meant his funeral was not until March 10th. This did mean he had a very well attended funeral and cremation, there were over a hundred people at it. A week later there would have been four.

Then lockdown happened and his ashes languished in the undertaker’s place until they could be interred. Meanwhile, the stonemasons completed his headstone and in a further act of ineptitude, installed it over a grave he wasn’t in. So it had to be moved. I can imagine his rage at all this. He hated waiting and he hated to be late and here he was, at the end, late for his own funeral. Because of the ineptitude of others.

One thing he would have been very proud of was his casket. Made by my son, his grandson, who learned a lot of his woodworking skills from my father. He also learned what has become a sort of unofficial motto in this branch of the family at least – ‘There is perfect, and there is wrong’. And so my son has agonised about some tiny imperfections in the wood but the casket he made turned out far superior to any of the readymades available from the undertaker – and that came from the undertaker themselves.

I know my father would have had no criticism of the casket. The coroner, the stonemason, all the rest of it, well he would have had some interesting phrases to launch at them all.

It has been difficult. I tried to rationalise his death as I rationalise most things in life. He was 82, he’d had multiple strokes, his mind was fully intact but his body was failing and that, understandably, made him frustrated. He knew what he wanted to do but his body could no longer do it. I don’t know which is worse – losing your mind in a fully functional body or having all your faculties in a body that’s collapsing. It’s still difficult to accept either way. Your parents are there from the moment you are born and you think they’re immortal, but they’re not. Everyone finds that out the hard way.

It has been difficult though, knowing he languished in storage when he should have been laid to rest. This should have been all over in March. If the coroner wasn’t an utterly useless arse it would all have been over by the end of February. If it had been, I could have been there.

I could not attend the interrment. I would have risked the application of two weeks of quarantine on my return from Wales to Scotland. I would have risked having to stop at the border, get out of my car and batter the racist SNP bastards with a King Dick spanner on the way back. I really would not have been in the mood to deal with their petty childish shit. I suppose quarantine in prison is much the same anyway.

Only four family members could attend. I know Bozza and the Pretend Conservatives say six but that includes the undertaker and the priest. Family gets four. My father has two brothers and three sisters surviving him, only one brother was able to be there along with his wife, my mother and my brother. If I had been there I would have had to force one of them out. I am glad my uncle was there though, he and my father were very close. It’s horrible the rest could not attend. I’d have given up my spot to any of them if I had one.

At least we have some kind of closure at last. My father’s journey has finally ended. He spent far too long in the waiting room but he’s now reached the final destination.

I can hear him now – ‘Bloody British Rail would have been quicker’.

24 thoughts on “Finally

  1. Waiting for a funeral is a horrible thing. We waited 15 days for my mother. It was agony. I cant imagine what waiting six months is like. I went to see her at the funeral home to get closure because there was so much left to say. Before she got cremated. I miss her terribly. even now ten and half years later

    Liked by 2 people

    • My mother couldn’t see my father at the funeral home. The coroner delayed releasing the body for nearly a month, it was too late for embalming. Closed casket.

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      • When my father died, we didn’t bother with enbalming. We’d seen him in hospital as he lay dying, and we’d seen him in the hospital lying dead and very much departed. That was enough, I think. We had photographs, and memories of the man he’d been before dementia took him from us.

        Then we had the long, slow process of dealing with a death. Every step, every check put in place because some vermin back in historical times used it to defraud someone of part of an inheritance. Dad had gone, and his remains waited quite a while for the final trip to crematorium and for the funeral.

        Death is a money-making business. Take grieving relatives and hit them up for every sharp sting you can think of. Want a posh coffin? Kerching, that’ll cost you. Want to piss off drivers across a city driving at a snail’s pace behind a hearse? Kerching again. We opted for the “meet coffin at crematorium” option, meaning Dad’s remains traveled from hospital mortuary to suburban crematorium in the back of a van. He never liked wasting money, my father, and this sort of thing would have pleased him. We sprinkled his ashes on the sunny side of a wood that in younger days he’d liked to walk through with his dog; it was a nice place and my mother would like a similar ceremony performing for her there too.

        Back to nature, sort of thing; it works out rather well.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Be comforted. Your Dad doesn’t care about any of those things. Those worries and frustrations are only for us mortals trying to do our “best” for someone we loved. They are our affirmations of love.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Government action in response to the virus has resulted in many ills but none, I think, can be more distressing than the rules around death. I hope this doesn’t sound insensitive, Leggy, but you were fortunate in being able to attend your father’s funeral – a very important ritual. I hope that – eventually – you will be able to have a little chuckle at the choice phrases your father might have used at the incompetence you experienced.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. All I have suffered from is a minor dose of anxiety, but I’m good at that anyway. “You could be dead in two weeks.” which was true and possibly still is.
    I really shouldn’t have watched that Eyham Video.

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    • Well, let’s face it, anyone could die tomorrow. I’ve known several who died in their 40s from undiagnosed brain haemmorhages or heart problems they never suspected they had, and it can even happen to 20 year olds.

      If I make it to 82 like my father, that’ll be good enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pales in comparison but my dad passed away on the Thursday evening going into Good Friday so, although his body was removed, mum had to go through Good Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Easter Monday unable to do any of those things necessary to start to bring closure.

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  6. Met a woman today whose brother died just before lockdown. The Cremation was booked in a city 30 miles away (hometown?) but then everything went down.
    The cremation went ahead with just four mourners and she was invited to watch it live online Skype/Zoom ? That went dark halfway through and it took a week for a hard digital copy to arrive.

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    • A friend of my brother’s was in the same situation. His mother’s funeral was curtailed to 4 people when lockdown hit. The effect on families has been devastating.

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  7. I know I am commenting rather late but coincidentally reading this now. 9 years ago today my sister died suddenly of pulmonary embolism two weeks before what should have been her 57th birthday. The blessing is that whilst sudden, it was quick; whereas we are currently awaiting my father-in-law’s death at 85 with dementia. He is on end of life protocol. Thankfully your father was spared such cruelty.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As I said at his funeral, when my time comes I want to go the same way. His mind was perfectly sound, not so much his body, he’d just had a good meal and a couple of beers and was happy and then… the off switch got thrown. No long drawn out illness and no pain.

      I really don’t want to end up in a nursing home. Especially not with the horror stories that comne out of some of them.

      Liked by 1 person

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