Long time readers may recall 2 years ago I returned to Cornwall, where I studied at the art college there, to attend the funeral of my Landlord and Godfather to my children. It was a sad but rewarding experience. Since then my birthday has often meant a time of reflection and at 38 now I'm starting the downhill side of life that just seems to get quicker each year. Anyway this year was no different - work and to treat myself to an eye test. The opticians seemed to be surprised by my choice of both working and an eye test but I kept thinking to myself once you've attended a funeral on your birthday nothing much else seems out of place.
Later on in the afternoon I got a call from the wife to see how my day had been, she'd left early for work so it was pretty much the first time we'd spoke. She also asked if I could come home early as my mother had been in touch to ask if my Dad had been round. Last year he was diagnosed with early stages Alzheimer's and finding out he actually left the house at 10:30 and had still not returned by 3pm brought concerns this may be the start of him forgetting what he was doing, getting lost etc. Thankfully my boss is extremely understanding and was OK with me leaving.
Unfortunately before I could leave my brother rang me. He'd stopped off in town to try and retrace my Dad's steps around 3:30pm and came across the aftermath of an accident in a local car park. Tragically having left the dentist and heading for the library my Dad had crossed through the car park around 11:30 and someone accidentally reversed into him. Despite efforts to save him he passed away at the scene. My brother was called upon to go and identify him and I was home to see my Mum by 5:30.
My father and I had a good relationship, I don't suppose we ever really fell out. I'm not sure he quite understood me, or perhaps the things I did. He was an engineer fitter by trade so my older brother, whose hobbies ranged from remote control cars to real racing cars where a much easier thing for him to get his head round and support. But it never really bothered me and for the most part our time together was more of the mundane things, just sharing each others company and he would sit patiently and listen as I vented about the latest thing to annoy me.
He was a good, honest man, a Roman Catholic [should that mean anything to anyone] but having married a Methodist he was 'ecumenical' in his belief and had joined the Street Pastors to just try and be there for people when they're a little the worse for wear. Ultimately he was a man with a strong work ethic [unlike me] and a need to feel worthwhile. Following his diagnosis of Alzheimers he feared he was useless and was terrified of how the disease would progress. The Street Pastor work was the only thing that kept him going during that period as despite a successful test to prove he was capable of driving the DVLA recalled his licence due to a misdiagnosis of an additional sleep disorder. Thankfully he had just got his licence back last week and although he'd said to my brother it didn't matter if he ever drove again it was the physical proof that he needed to validate that he was still useful.
At the moment he left us he was the happiest he could be given the circumstances, his annual check up in December had shown that the Alzheimers had not progressed in the last 12 months and we hoped the medication he had was keeping it at bay. The silver lining is that he never had to suffer the indignities he so feared. I will always wish we could have been closer but I knew he loved me and my family greatly, even if it was a few weeks or even months between seeing each other [despite only living 10 minutes walk away]. I will regret the lost moments but I will also try to learn from them and try to be closer to my own sons.
Anyway the funeral is still to come we're all coping and getting on. My Mum came out and watched the eldest play rugby today, the first time she's been so despite it all we are keeping each other strong. As my Dad was uncommonly fond of saying "It's just one of those things Son". Thanks for the indulgence.
|Edward Henry Weston, my Dad.|