Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Dad R.I.P.

As I type this it is 1:45 in the morning. It's 55 minutes after the death of my father who died at 12:50 up at Derriford. The end, when it came, was swift and not unwelcome. He had been desperately ill and was just too old and frail to carry on.

The weird thing is the timing of it. My Mum and sister and I had already spent all night yesterday at he hospital after being told the end was near and they are exhausted and both sleeping. Should I call them? I don't think so. What good will it do? They need their sleep rather more than they need my phone call.

I am sitting at Mum's laptop anyway and if she awakes then I'll tell her and I have emailed my two brothers who are both away from Plymouth which is why I have turned the computer on.

So here I am writing this to gather my thoughts as much as anything else. I certainly don't feel sleepy and don't really know what else to do.

I don't want to remember my father as he has been over the last few days or even the last couple of years really. He aged very quickly and was very frail. He had a list of ailments as long as your arm: prostate cancer, emphysema, repeated urinary infections, low level incontinence, deafness, cataracts and, at the end, the broken arm, septicaemia and pneumonia which killed him. Nobody deserves to have to fight against such burdens.

He was a fine, proud man from a generation which has largely passed on. He worked hard all of his life and looked after his family well after beginning in the most humble of rural backgrounds imaginable when he born in Lee Mill in the '20s. He served in the army during WW2 but never saw much action due to being recruited into the Royal Engineers. From what I gather he spent most of his time driving a bulldozer and building airfields.

For the bulk of his working life he was a guinness rep and he was never happier than when he was in a pub drinking a bottle of guinness which had been perfectly poured (i.e. by him) and served at room temperature. He had no truck with cold beer. The modern Extra Cold Draught Guinness would have appalled him. In many ways his love of pubs has been passed on to me and there's plenty of evidence of that in this blog.

He was never really a great football fan. He supported Argyle a bit but always maintained that his favourite team was Scunthorpe United. Why them? I guess he thought nobody else supported them!!

He did take me to a few games though that I remember.

Big ones too mostly when I think of it.

He took me to see Argyle v Santos with Pele and all of the hullabaloo that accompanied that. He took me to see Argyle play Preston when Bobby Charlton was a Preston player/manager. We were at Villa Park together, at Peterborough (yes... on that day) and we went to the FA Cup match v Everton when I was small but he was scared for my safety in the crush and we left. I couldn't see anyway. There was also an away game at Bournemouth which we won 2-1 back in Mariner's day and we went to see Spurs v Leeds at White Hart Lane when the Leeds team read Harvey, Reaney, Cooper, Hunter, Charlton, Giles, Bremner, Lorimer, Gray, Jones and Clarke. It was a rubbish game and Ralph Coates, who got his nose broken, and Alan Gilzean (Dad's favourite player for some reason) played for Spurs. It was featured on MotD but was not a great game and ended 0-0. Argyle was always far more dramatic and entertining than that!!

There may have been more but there weren't many that we went to not least because he hated to see what he called "tip tap tip tap bloody side ways football". He would encourage them to "Hit it!!" at every possible opportunity.

But he never will again.

Right now the stillness of the night and the solitude is what I crave. I don't want to speak to anybody. I don't want to make phone calls or start to prepare the "arrangements". I don't even want to weep because I have done enough of that already.

Some time ago I was talking to a friend who has similarly aged parents and he said to me "we have some tough times ahead of us". He was right.

Mum has just woken up. Here we go with the news...


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