15th October 2008 - Funeral
The last few days have passed in a blur. Getting things done, registering the death, organising the funeral, flowers, 'the do'. Dad was a Christian so we wanted a minister to do a 'turn'. The tame one from the home came to see me. I find religious people very tricky to talk to - which is strange as I used to have a brother-in-law who is a priest ( long story, different life! ) - but I keep just wanting to say to them "But really, honestly, you don't really believe all that crap do you?". He was lovely though. Didn't even complaint when I gave him his tea - and he should have because I later noticed that the milk I'd used was off and there were floaters and God know what in it. Maybe He told him there was nothing to worry about in it because he was drinking it regardless. But the minister was lovely. He did suggest quite a bit of religon in the service but I thought I should let him take the lead, he's been to a few more than me.
I'd discussed with my siblings whether they wanted to speak or not, and neither of them did. I decided I'd like someone to speak that knew Dad because the minister - lovely as he was - didn't remember Dad. So I'd spent ages trying to get something to say, something that was true, something that wasn't slushy because he'd have hated that, something that didn't airbrush him but something that was heartfelt.
When it came to the day, I was really pleased to see my friends there. My ex-husband and my ex-sister-in-law where there. My family and my friends. Someone from the home came too, my siblings and their family, and my Dad's brother and his wife and their two sons and one of their wives.
" Firstly I'd like to thank you all for coming. With Dad having moved from Glasgow to Stewarton, then to Edinburgh, it was difficult to know who would be able to be here, so thank you all for coming.
Secondly, I'd like to extend my heartfelt thanks - and those of my sister and brother - to the staff at Portland Care home. Dad lived at Portland for the last 4 years of his life, and over those 4 years my admiration for the work that the staff do there has grown and grown. I have often been humbled by their compassion, their humanity, their dedication to the job and to those in their care. They have taught me a lot and I will always be grateful.
One of my recent fondest memories of Dad, was at last year's Christmas party at Pentland Hills. Mark, Ellie and I had been enjoying watching the country dancing when Dad was given his evening medication. He took this, but followed after the nurse who had given it, and as I went after him to get him to sit down again, the music started again and Dad started to dance with me. I'd never danced with him before. But we did then. He was a good dancer - his feet remembered even when so much else had been forgotten. I didn't want it to stop, it was lovely, dancing with Dad. Portland, and more particularly Tunhouse unit staff gave me and Dad that opportunity.
Lastly, my sister Moira found a quote that we both think is very appropriate for Dad, a description of the Victorian detective Chief Superintendent Williamson, by a colleague.
'A Scot, from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, loyal, hardworking, persevering, phlegmatic, obstinate, unenthusiastic, courageous, always having his own opinion, never afraid to express it, slow to grasp a new idea, doubtful of its efficacy, seeing its disadvantages rather than its advantages, but withal so clear-headed, and so honest, and kind-hearted to a fault, he was a most upright and valuable public servant.'
Dad was human, just as we all are. He had flaws, he wasn't perfect, but above all, more than anything he tried his best. He knew his flaws and he tried to overcome them. I don't think you can ask more of a person than that. He worked hard, he loved his family and he did the best for his family. He did very little harm. He bore his illness very bravely, complaining very little and although it brought us all some very dark times, it taught me that I loved my father. He will be missed."
He is missed. I'm lost without him at the minute. I'm not sleeping. I know it'll change, get better, get easier. I don't want to forget him though, I don't want to forget all that I learnt about life, about death, about him and about me in the last four years. I think I've become a better person. I hope so. I hope I helped Dad. I know I could have and should have done more. I wish I'd done more. I'm glad I did what I did.