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’.