Rip Chipper

My dad passed away in the early hours of Monday morning. He’d been suffering for a long time with COPD and was prone to angina attacks and chest infections as a result. He had real trouble breathing and was on oxygen pretty much most of the time.

My brother called me at about 3 a.m. to tell me the news and to ask if I could come home. I got the first boat over at 8.20 a.m. and got to the house. My dad had been taken away by then and my brother and I began the process of Sorting Things Out. And in a strange kind of way it was an enjoyable time: just I, my brother and my mum in constant contact dealing with insurance policies and such like, as well as clearing out cupboards and cleaning.

There wasn’t all that much to sort out in terms of material possessions; my folks moved from our family home about 10 years ago to a small one-bedroomed house, so most of the junk went during the move. And my mum is physically prepared for being on her own. She’s paralysed almost completely from the neck down and has constant social care. My dad was there, but he wasn’t really there in the last few months as he wasn’t in good enough shape really to be of much help to my mum. Of course he was company and that’s what she will miss the most.

Mum and dad were married in 1971 and my dad was 78 at the end.

The funeral was today. We didn’t expect there to be a great turn out, given that my dad’s family is quite small now and he wasn’t really a great socialiser since moving house. But we were wrong: there was standing room only and even at that some people had to stand outside!

The service was really good, officiated by the same minister that married Brian and Lynn and me and Lorraine. He also christened all four of Brian’s kids. So he’s been dealing with the families births, deaths and marriages for a while and that’s kind of comforting.

The service was followed by a trip to the cemetery where dad was buried and it was a nice service there too. The close family all threw a rose into the grave and I hope that Freya will remember. I think she will. Hamish probably won’t though as he’s only 3.

During my time at home, since Monday, I got to an AA meeting every night. It’s weird to think that I spent a lot of my drinking time in Prestwick and Ayr but I’d never been to a meeting there. It was easy enough to find the meetings and it was a great help to me. It’s a shame in a way that I didn’t get to sit in the pub with my brother and the rest of the family after the service, but I know what that would have led to and it’s not what dad would have wanted; of that I am certain. So I made up for that by getting a 32 gig iPhone. It’s what dad would have done! He always was an early adopter and a gadget freak so it’s the best way I can think to remember him. I also wore his cuff links at the service today and shall keep them special.

I’m not sure whether I’m grieving or not. I think being able to share at the AA meetings was a big help but whether it was letting out some of the grief I really can’t say. I’ve never dealt with the death of a parent before. Time will tell.

I know that I am proud of my family, particularly my brother and his eldest for the way they’ve dealt with everything this week. And same goes for Lorraine; she’s been there for me and has been a great help. And my children helped too. And so life goes on for us all.

I’d also like to thank all the friends and family who came along today. It was a great help to me to see my school friends there, even if I didn’t get to talk to them for very long. If you’re reading this its, thanks for coming!

Rest in Peace, Chipper.