This week was going to be my next ‘Random Musings’ piece, but to be honest there is nothing ‘random’ about what I’ve decided to write about today. For this week’s post I want to step away from writing about Mental Health for just a brief moment and talk about a different subject; loss.
I choose to do this now as it is coming up to the 10 year mark when I lost my Father-In-Law Norman to lung cancer. Actually forgive me, but from here on I’m not going to make any more reference to the phrase ‘Father-In-Law” because, for me, he was far more than that…he was the closest I ever got to having a Father, and for that I will always be truly thankful and will cherish the 18 years that we had together.
He was a wonderful man. To me, he always seemed to be someone who never put a foot wrong, always running around doing everything for everyone else but would never ask for anything in return…just a smile and a thank you every once in a while, that was reward enough for him.
I’m going to share something with you now, a specific moment in time that will stay with me for the rest of my days, something that I’ve not told anyone since the day it happened…mostly because I know how emotional I would have got if I tried to tell someone before now.
It was April 11th 2009; it was a Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. By this point Norman had been in the hospice for a couple of weeks. I hadn’t done a lot that day, just pottering around the house waiting to go and visit him.
At about 3 o’clock I left the house and made the 30 minute journey to St. Giles in Whittington, Lichfield. Alison, my Mother-In-Law, was already at the hospice as were a couple of Norman’s friends, one of whom had worked with him in his early carpentry days. They had come to the end of their conversation as I walked into the room and I was introduced to them before they made their goodbyes and left.
Norman and I exchanged pleasantries and I sat down whilst he finished his semolina. A beautiful bouquet of flowers had been left and Alison began to unwrap them. There was no vase to hand so she disappeared out into the corridor to go and find one.
It was a moment later that Norman gestured to me and patted the space next to him on the bed. I got up, walked over and perched myself on the edge. I just assumed that he wanted something, more semolina, some water maybe? He pointed to a pillow so I picked it up and placed it behind him so that he was more comfortable and upright in the bed. As I sat back on the edge of the bed he took a hold of my hand and in a hushed tone he said to me “I want you to do something for me….take care of the girls for me”.
He nodded, I nodded, we both smiled at each other then I hugged him.
Alison appeared a few minutes later and arranged the flowers in the newly found vase. We chatted some more until the time was approaching 6 o’clock so we decided to set off and left with the usual “See you later”.
The path to the car park ran alongside the building and straight passed the room that Norman was staying in. As I got level with the window, something happened that to this day I cannot explain. I stopped, turned toward the window as if someone had called my name; I shrugged it off and took a few more steps before stopping again. I turned back again toward the window and after a few seconds I just found myself smiling…..smiling as if I had just been reassured that everything was going to be okay.
Norman passed away a few hours later.
Grief is a hole that cannot be filled. But over time it will shrink enough so that you won’t fall in every time you take a step.
Oh, by the way…..these are the girls he was talking about, my three beautiful daughters. I know how very proud he would be of the young women they have grown into.
They are my tether to this world and everything valuable in it.
Here he is test riding a couple of Harley Davidsons.
He finally settled on the beautiful red Sportster 883 on the right.
I’ll leave you with an incredible track from Hammock’s 2018 album ‘Unversalis’.
The track is called ‘We Watched You Disappear’.