Journal – January 2011 (Dad’s Death)

My father smiling as he is awarded a gold coloured trophy by a lady.

This month marks a huge change and a big turning point in my life with my father passing away. My mother and I have naturally had a lot to sort out as a result, but we do also have plans for the future, given our desire to move to London and make a fresh start at some stage.

So I’ve had plenty to write about during this extremely busy month. And even after editing out a lot of private information, there’s still a considerable amount I’ve shared here. It’ll certainly give you a fair sense of how much needs to be done when a loved one passes away. But I also met up with a friend at one point during the month, which was nice too.

You’re welcome to skip this entirely if you’re uncomfortable with such a topic, and return for my later posts as things get back to normal and improve again. But if you do go through my entries below, I hope you find them of some interest.

Monday January 3, 2011

My father has sadly passed away. He was 65. He had suffered from a heart valve infection, making his body susceptible to kidney trouble, pneumonia, and even a little bleeding in the stomach and on the brain. He therefore became so weak that it was impossible for him to survive. But he went with dignity, in comfort and at peace, at a time of his choosing.

Mum and I went to see him in the afternoon to begin with. At that stage, he was still breathing for himself, through a mask. He wasn’t responding to us, although there were little changes in his breathing that suggested he might have been able to hear us. And the way that events unfolded from then, he must have known we were there. It’s as if he held on during his time in the other hospital, wanting to come back to our local hospital so he could have that final contact with us.

After spending over an hour with him, Mum and I left the hospital and came home – only to then get a phone call saying his condition had deteriorated, so we went back in again. He was needing much more support for his breathing and fluids by then, and the doctor on call came in to tell us that he wasn’t likely to pull through. With our consent, they were considering withdrawing treatment, on something called the Liverpool Care Pathway, to ease his passing, if it was going to be the best thing for him. But as it turns out, that wasn’t necessary anyway.

Mum and I went home again, having spent another hour with him. Then, just after 8pm, Louise (the nurse who had been looking after Dad and us) rang to break the bad news.

I thought I might break down in tears. But it felt like a relief, for Dad at least. It meant his troubles were over. And he didn’t die in pain or discomfort. Nor did they have to withdraw his treatment – he went when he chose to. He’d had his final contact with Mum and I, and he held on until we left. He didn’t want us to see him go, and he didn’t want to hold on any longer. He thought of us right up to the end, I’m sure of it.

So we went back to the hospital one more time to see him. He looked so peaceful there, so relaxed, just asleep. The chaplain agreed to come down and be there for us, and she said a few words to thank Dad for his life. I’ve never been a believer in God, but you can’t help but wonder if there is something or someone out there, who has helped Dad put all his troubles behind him, and given Mum and I the ability to move ahead with good foundations beneath us.

The chaplain left us alone after that, and we spent another half hour with Dad, just talking amongst ourselves. Mum and I have been talking to each other a lot lately, which I think has been a massive help to both of us. It’s allowed us to come to terms with what’s happened and be in agreement about how to move ahead.

So 2011’s going to be a very eventful year. Lots of change ahead and lots to be done. It will be stressful, but also interesting, potentially exciting in some ways. Dad wouldn’t want us to mope around feeling sorry for ourselves, and we wouldn’t want to do that. We’ll move on and make him happy.

Dad, I love you so very much, and always will. Thank you for everything.

Glen, as a young child, is standing and smiling on a paved garden patio, wearing a blue and white striped t-shirt, red shorts and black trainers. His father, sat behind him in a red shirt, blue jeans and white trainers, watches with a smile, alongside 2 female relatives. Flower pots nearby contain a mix of red and white flowers.

Friday January 7, 2011

Things have been moving forward piece by piece, we’ve got a lot done this week:

  • We’ve informed our relatives. My Nan was originally considering coming down with them for the funeral, but isn’t really fit enough to, so my Aunt and Uncle will probably come down by train on the day, whenever it is.
  • I’ve posted a status message on my Facebook page to inform my friends. AB replied saying she wanted to donate something to charity for Dad, which is a lovely gesture.
  • We got a sympathy card from my Nan’s next door neighbour, so that was nice of them.
  • We’ve seen the hospital’s Bereavement Officer, who gave us a medical certificate of the cause of death. Dad died of pneumonia, as we’d suspected. It’s particularly serious when you get it in hospital, because of the various germs that are resistant to antibiotics, and it’s easy to catch when your body’s weak, and if you’ve been on a ventilator. They also mentioned the infection he had with his mitral valve – not as a cause of death, but it’s still relevant.
  • We’ve registered the death, buying 6 certified copies of the death certificate to keep us going. It was important to get as many as we needed then, as they were £3.50 each, whereas if we have to get any later on they’ll cost £7. Their registration system also sorts out the Council Tax, electoral roll, state pension, disability living allowance, passport, and blue badge on our behalf, which is very useful.
  • We’ve arranged the collection of Dad’s body with Co-operative Funeral Services, and we have an appointment next week to arrange the funeral. They have a chapel at their offices, so the lady we spoke to suggested we might want to consider using that. They would then take the body on to the crematorium on our behalf. Which we like the sound of, as we won’t have to see the coffin being taken through the curtains in the crematorium itself, which was an image that had been playing in my mind a bit. So we’ll certainly give it consideration.
  • I rang the Bereavement Register, as we were given their number when registering the death. They basically stop all unwanted junk mail and marketing calls for Dad, and in 6 weeks there should be a noticeable drop in mail for him. Any that we continue to get after that time – because a small minority of companies aren’t as responsible as they should be – can be sent on, using a freepost address, to the Bereavement Register, and they’ll deal with it.
  • Work have been informed. I have a week’s compassionate leave, and have then been advised to take time off sick if I need more days, to avoid using up my annual leave.
  • The utility companies have been informed. BT, South West Water and British Gas were all extremely helpful on the phone, changing the accounts over to Mum’s name instantly. But EDF Energy have a horrible, slow, voice-activated phone system, so I emailed them instead.
  • The TV Licensing people have said it’s ok to switch the license to Mum’s name, as long as we send the death certificate and proof that Mum is blind, so that’s fine.

We’ve also been sorting out bits and pieces in the drawers and sideboard and kitchen cupboards downstairs, ending up with black bags of various bits and bobs, as well as shredding or recycling lots of pieces of paper. It’s been helping us to get through the days, even if it’s a bit tiring. I’ve now got Dad’s talking watch on, and we’ve kept useful things such as his hand-held magnifier with a light in it, and a few monoculars we found, as they’re always useful. We even found an old harmonica of mine on the shelf above the CCTV!

I’ve also been sorting out all of Dad’s DVDs. While we could perhaps have sold many of them, there isn’t really much point. We wouldn’t get a lot for them, and it’s easier to bin them really, while we’re trashing everything else. We’ll get a skip at some point, after the funeral of course, and get rid of the bulky stuff like that in there. We’ve kept a select few of his DVDs – for instance, I’ve taken American Werewolf In London & In Paris and the Scary Movie set. But we’ve mainly ended up with a few black bags full of DVDs we don’t need. He certainly got his money’s worth out of them, especially his westerns and the Sharpe box set. It’s a shame he never got to see the DVDs we bought for him while he was in hospital. But maybe he can see them now, wherever he is.

So we’ve got a fair bit done this week. Over the weekend we might write one or two letters to send off with death certificates. Then, on Monday, we can crack on with other official stuff now we’re able to do so, plus I’ll need to book a doctor’s appointment for my sick leave. So things are moving forward well, and should continue to do so now that we have all the necessary paperwork. Of course, Dad may no longer exist in official eyes, but he’ll never be far from Mum and I. He’ll always be with us in some way.

And generally speaking we’ve been feeling calmer since the initial shock has worn off a little. Mum and I have naturally had private moments away from each other, where we just sit or lay down weeping a little, or just in silent reflection. I haven’t had the floodgates open in terms of tears yet, as I’d perhaps been expecting, but I have cried a little, for a minute or two each time.

I suppose it stops things getting overwhelming, and maybe it’s because it wasn’t as much of a shock as it could have been. We knew how ill Dad had become, and we had sort of adapted to him not being here. We still miss him terribly, and keep talking about what he’d be doing here or there, or the things we bought that he never got to use (e.g. the audio labelling Penfriend, soups in the kitchen, new DVDs, etc). And all that talking is helping too I think, sharing our thoughts and memories.

So we’re doing ok. I’m sure we’ll still have up and down days, but so far we’ve not been too bad.

Tuesday January 11, 2011

Still seems hard to believe that a week has passed since Dad died already. We didn’t do anything at the weekend other than a little bit of shopping, as we were quite tired after everything we’d done during last week. So we had a quiet couple of days, which we really needed. Then yesterday we got back into doing various bits and pieces. Still gradually, and we’re still only doing what we feel comfortable with, but we’re achieving more and more as we go along:

  • I rang the solicitors in charge of Dad’s will to sort out what we need to do and arrange an appointment. That should all be relatively simple.
  • We’ve posted off various things – a couple of letters with copies of Dad’s death certificate, some letters to inform Dad’s distant relatives, and a sick note from my doctor that gives me 2 weeks off work for bereavement.
  • We’ve also filled out various forms, online or by hand – one to see if Mum’s eligible for any bereavement or widow’s benefits, another to renew her Blue Badge, and one to report Dad’s death for his work pension.
  • Our builder came round on his way to a job, to express he and his wife’s condolences. So that was a lovely surprise, and we had a nice chat with him for a little while.

In terms of sorting stuff out in the house, we’ve been through the drawers and wardrobes in Mum and Dad’s bedroom, putting aside lots of clothes to put in the recycling, putting other clothes and other things we don’t need into the rubbish, sorting out a few bits of important paperwork he had there, and finding a few old letters and address books that Dad’s parents had (which we don’t need, so we got rid of those).

We’ve also sorted out the back room upstairs. There were DVDs and audiobooks to get rid of, plus we found a load of old payslips of Dad’s, and payslips and other pieces of paper relating to Mum’s old job. There was also a big box in there which contained Dad’s Premium Bonds, Mum’s birth certificate, and documents relating to Mum and Dad purchasing the house (we already had a copy of the deeds, as they’d been in the loft).

In the box we also found Grandad’s service and pay book and related documents from when he was a Corporal in the Medical Corps in World War II, and there were a few ration books from the 50s in there as well. All of which was quite interesting for me – I’m pretty sure I must have seen them before, but I would only have been young then, so probably didn’t appreciate them as much. I’ve scanned them all in so I have digital copies anyway, though we’ll still keep the originals. And talking of boxes, Mum’s had a new vacuum cleaner delivered, that we’d ordered from John Lewis, so she’s happy with that.

Wednesday January 12, 2011

We’ve arranged Dad’s funeral with Co-operative Funeral Services, with a guy called Martin who was really nice. It’ll be held next Thursday, in the chapel at the funeral directors itself. Mum, myself, my Aunt & Uncle will be there, as will the parish vicar. The service won’t be too religious – just nice and simple without anything being preached at us, and we won’t be singing any hymns. The vicar’s going to call us to arrange a time to come around and arrange things with us. We’ve also sorted out the details of the coffin and the flowers we want.

After a day of going through my music at home, Mum and I have decided that we’ll enter the service to Roy Orbison’s You Got It (the lyrics suggest that Dad’s singing to us to welcome us in), and then it will end to Billy Joel’s Just The Way You Are (as if we were singing back to Dad as we leave, in a strange way). After the service has been completed, we’ll have as long as we need to there before we leave. We’ll be allowed to take photos during that time, so I can take some with my phone and get copies printed at work to send to Nan.

The coffin will then be taken to the crematorium the next day. We decided not to have the service there as, this way, the last image we see of Dad is him resting peacefully with flowers around him, as opposed to the coffin going through a curtain with the knowledge of what’s on the other side. Dad didn’t want us to see him die in the hospital, so he wouldn’t want us to witness his cremation either. His ashes will then be scattered on our behalf over the gardens of the crematorium, where there’s a patch of garden for each month of the year.

There’s a place called Conqueror Wood that’s not far away, which is being planted in honour of the Battle Of Trafalgar, and you can pay £40 for a tree to be planted there. It’ll be preserved and protected by the Woodland Trust, so we know it’ll be well kept. We also know that Dad loved playing in Epping Forest as a kid, and was also interested in things like the Battle Of Trafalgar, so it seems like the perfect idea for him. So we’re going to pay for an oak tree. The tree itself won’t be marked in any way – which is fine by us, as Dad would rather be anonymous in there – but we will get a certificate to say the tree was planted, and we can go to the planting ceremony itself if we wish.

So that’s all sorted out. Tomorrow we’ll pop in to give them a cheque for the deposit, as well as the CDs for them to play, and we’ll tell them our choices for the flowers.

That’s been the main job today, but other little things have been happening too:

  • I got an email from EDF Energy saying they’d switched our electricity account into Mum’s name, so I’m glad that’s finally sorted out. Even if it was a relatively slow response, at least their website’s more effective than their phone system.
  • Amazon emailed yesterday to confirm they’d closed my Dad’s account, after I emailed them a copy of the death certificate.
  • Mum’s got a form from the pension people to see what she might be entitled to from Dad’s work pension. So we’ve filled it in, and will send it off with photocopies of the death certificate, marriage certificate and Dad’s will.
  • We’ve also filled out the Jobcentre Plus form to see if Mum will get any benefits from them – worth a shot at least. They need original copies of her birth certificate, her and Dad’s marriage certificate, and Dad’s death certificate, instead of photocopies, so we’ll send that by recorded delivery to be safe.
  • My section manager rang me on my mobile yesterday to express his condolences and to ask me a couple of work-related things. He and our department manager are the only colleagues I’ve spoken to thus far, but they both sounded quite shocked by the news, so I imagine the others feel the same way.
  • A couple of Dad’s relatives emailed, and another telephoned, to express their condolences. Clearly the letters I’d sent yesterday arrived quickly! A couple of them mentioned how they’d remembered Dad when he was younger, which was nice. One of them has offered to send flowers, so we’ve given them the funeral director’s address, while the other two have asked to make donations, so we’ve recommended the Devon Air Ambulance and Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), as we know Dad supported both of them. So it was nice of all them to get in touch, and maybe others will over the next day or two.

Thursday January 13, 2011

We saw Martin at the funeral directors again today. We gave him the CDs with the music we wanted, sorted out the flowers for them to order, and paid the deposit. A lady then helped us choose cards to go with the flowers, so we’ve written them out at home and will take them in tomorrow. Mine reads: “Thank you Dad, for everything. You were always there for us, and will always be a part of us. Love from Glen.”

We got a letter from another couple of relatives expressing their condolences and offering to send flowers or make a donation, so I’ve written a letter back to them giving them the details for the flowers. Another friend of the family also wrote to express their condolences as well. And my mate from Portsmouth emailed me to say they wanted to make a donation to charity, so I’ve given him the relevant details of those we decided on yesterday. I also rang the tax office to inform them of Dad’s death, and they’re going to send me a form.

I’ve moved the DVDs I had on the shelves in the hallways (films, music and stand-up comedy mainly) back into the living room area, now there’s room for them all. I’ve also done some more shredding ready for the rubbish collection tomorrow, including all of Mum’s work documents from when she was employed (no longer needed as she’s been successfully getting her pension for 7 years already). Mum’s been trying out her new vacuum cleaner too, which seems to work fine.

We’ve gone online to Marks & Spencer and ordered suits for each of us for the funeral. We had considered going in to the shop itself, but it’s a bit of a trek to get to, even on the bus, and especially with the weather as wet as it is. And we’re pretty sure of our sizes. They should arrive on Monday. We also ordered flowers to have at home to be delivered on Wednesday.

Friday January 14, 2011

We went to see the solicitor today, about the will and Dad’s finances, taking along all the paperwork we thought he would need. He’s now going to sort everything out for us as much as he can, with the bank, National Savings & Investments and the Land Registry in particular.  Because Dad had over a certain amount of money, a Grant of Probate needs to be acquired, which is just a formal process. We don’t have to pay any Inheritance Tax either, because he’s below the threshold for that.

Because Mum’s blind, I’m going to be set up as an Attorney – or an administrator in other words – so that I can deal with correspondence and sign things on Mum’s behalf. How fast things get done will depend on how quickly the companies reply to begin with, but even after the Grant of Probate’s been granted there’s a 6 month period where other people could lay claim to the estate (which would be extremely unlikely in our case of course). So it’ll take a number of months for everything to be finally settled, but the bulk of it should be done in the next couple of months we hope.

Mum and I have also set up an appointment to do our own wills next Friday morning. Mum will be updating hers, and I’ll be creating my first one. I would probably want to revise my will if I later get married of course – but then I’d have to anyway. Getting married automatically revokes any wills you’ve made, unless your will indicates that you’ll be marrying a specific person before it happens. That was something we didn’t know until today! After the meeting, we dropped the cards for the flowers into the funeral directors, before coming home again.

We’ve also started taking a very casual glance at property prices in Nan’s area in London. We won’t want to move until the estate’s dealt with, of course, but we are pretty much agreed that moving is the most practical option for both of us. And it appears that it would be affordable going by the prices.

So we’re just starting to have a look around – not just at the houses themselves, but also the general area around them. Are there schools, pubs, doctors, shops, transport links, etc nearby, for instance? Various websites will tell you things like that, and Google Street View allows you to actually walk the streets around most addresses.

Of course, you can’t read too much into the house descriptions, as they obviously want to make them sound good. It would only ever be by visiting a property that you can then tell if it feels right or not, and you have to look around a few places first. So it’s not about picking a place, it’s just getting a feel for the areas near Nan. No decision’s going to made for months yet, but when we do decide to make a move, we should at least be well prepared and informed for it, as best as we can be.

We also got a little bit of post today, including a sympathy card from our medical centre, which was lovely of them. And I got an email from one of Dad’s relatives, following up on their previous phone call.  They’re sending a donation to the RNLI, which is good of them.

So that’s it for another week. Other than a little bit of shopping tomorrow morning, we’re going to have another well-earned relaxing weekend. I’m pleased with how much we’ve been able to get done though, and I’m still amazed at how well we seem to be dealing with all this. As I’ve said before, I still think there’ll be a moment in the future, maybe at the funeral, or maybe not for a few months, when something will happen to open up the floodgates and I’ll have a good cry about it. Perhaps it’ll happen when we’re not so busy and things have calmed down a little, who knows? But in the meantime at least, we’re still doing alright.

Saturday January 15, 2011

Mum and I went shopping this morning, and on our way home the barber came out of his shop and across the road to express his condolences and have a quick chat. It was really nice of him to do that, as I know he has a lot of respect for Dad. He says we can ask him if we need any help with anything, and we know he’d be happy to assist if we did need it.

AB then rang after we got home and asked if I wanted to meet up with her, as she was at her Dad’s place nearby. So I agreed and spent a few hours with her this afternoon, which was nice. The first pub we went to asked us for ID, amazingly, which we didn’t have. So we went somewhere else instead, where we had some nice cider called Cornish Rattler, plus a chocolate pudding dessert (we didn’t want a main meal, and I’d already had lunch anyway). We talked about Dad of course, but also her own family and jobs she was looking at. Even after the number of people I’ve chatted to about Dad, it still feels good to talk about him.

She and her family were also going to a party this evening, relating to a Hashing group her Dad’s involved with, where everyone has to wear red dresses – yes, even the men! AB needed a few little things for it, so we popped into a clothes shop on the way back up the high street. And while we were in there, she got a text massage saying “we’re behind you”, which was a bit ominous! But it turned out her Dad and his partner were shopping in there too! They both expressed their condolences on my Dad’s passing, as AB had already made them aware of that. So it was nice to see them, and there are probably going to be some interesting photos from their party to see later!

Anyway, I came home after that, getting in shortly before 6pm. So now I’m just having a relaxing evening, and I’m going to watch a couple of my Tim Vine DVDs before I go to bed, as he’s very funny.

That’s all really. Nothing much will happen tomorrow, so Mum and I will just have a good rest again.

Wednesday January 19, 2011

This week’s proving to be less busy than previous ones have been, which is a good thing with the funeral coming up on Thursday. But we’ve still got a few things done over the past few days:

  • I’ve had a good clear out of my own things in my bedroom and the loft, filling up two black bags.
  • We received Mum’s birth and marriage certificates, and Dad’s death certificate, back from Jobcentre Plus by recorded delivery, having sent them off to see if Mum can get any benefits. And we got a letter from our solicitors, with forms for us to sign up to their terms and conditions.
  • Our builder rang to say that he, his wife and his wife’s grandfather will be coming to the funeral. Dad used to work with the latter, so we’ve always got on well with their family.
  • Our suits from M&S have arrived, which look pretty smart and fit perfectly. We also got the 2 lots of flowers we ordered from them – one for the hallway and one for the lounge – as well as some flowers from Next, sent by some kind relatives.
  • I took Mum down to the hairdresser, and popped down to Tesco while she was in there, picking up some milk and biscuits in case people want tea and biscuits after the funeral. Her hairdresser’s really nice, and was as shocked as everyone else to hear about Dad’s passing. Her golden retriever, Bonnie, was also there – she’s a very quiet and friendly dog, who obviously loves being around people.
  • The vicar came to our house and spent about half an hour with us, talking about Dad and the funeral arrangements, and asked how we were doing. He says he’ll pop round in a couple of weeks time as well to see how we’re getting on, which is nice of him. My Aunt and Uncle are travelling down overnight and staying in the Travelodge in Exeter, so we’ll see them at the funeral.

And so tonight Mum and I are relaxing, just wanting to get the funeral over with. It’s an important step to take, to commemorate someone we all love very much, so we can have a bit of closure. That’s not to say we’ll forget Dad afterwards of course – we’ll always remember him, think of him, and talk about him. But it will allow us to move forward and get back into a normal routine again, once we’ve said a proper goodbye. It’s good to do it, but it’ll be a relief when it’s over too.

Thursday January 20, 2011

Well, that’s the funeral over with. This morning was pretty uneventful, but we placed the flowers we’d bought and received in the kitchen, dining room and hallway. We also received copies of Dad’s death certificate back from people we’d sent them too, including the TV Licensing authority, which is good.  And we got a form from Revenue & Customs, which we’ll take to our solicitor tomorrow.

My Aunt & Uncle arrived shortly after 11am, and we had a nice time chatting to them before Mum & I got ready about 1pm, and we chatted some more until it was time to leave. The limo then reversed up to the house bang on 1:45pm as we’d arranged. It was a lovely, comfortable car to sit in as we were taken down to the chapel. And the weather was gorgeous – we’ve had lovely warm sunshine and clear blue skies all day. That was very much a blessing, given how miserable it’s been up until yesterday, when it finally changed for the better.

Our builder, his wife and her grandfather were already at the chapel waiting for us, and the 7 of us had a nice chat in the living-room-style entrance hall while we were waiting for the service to start. The good thing about it was that we were having a good talk and laughing about things. From the outset it wasn’t dreary or mournful, which Dad wouldn’t have wanted. The vicar and funeral director met us as well, and allowed us to chat until the service was ready to start at 2pm.

When it did start, the doors to the chapel were opened to the sound of Roy Orbison’s You Got It playing as we’d requested. The coffin looked beautiful with all the colourful flowers on top of it and on the floor around it, bought by us and our relatives and friends.

The vicar did a lovely short service, and it really felt like a lovely and personal celebration for Dad, the vicar really captured his character well, and gave us all the space we needed for our own memories. There were a couple of readings – a little from Revelations, and Psalm 23 (The Lord Is My Shepherd) – and a few prayers, including the Lord’s Prayer, which we all said with him.

The service lasted about 20 minutes, ending with the vicar’s last words to commit Dad to God’s care, before they put on Billy Joel’s Just The Way You Are.

We were then able to spend time reflecting on Dad’s life and the service we’d just had, as well as looking at the flowers up close and reading all the cards. I was allowed to take a few photos on my phone as well. We were then given the cards to take home, as well as the CDs we’d supplied for the music. We didn’t end up crying like I thought we might do, probably because we knew Dad wouldn’t have wanted us in floods of tears. We could still feel the grief inside us though, naturally. But it was a thanksgiving for Dad’s life, which is what we wanted.

The limo then took myself, Mum, and my Aunt and Uncle back home. My builder and his family didn’t come back with us after all. When we got there, it turns out we’d missed a delivery of what we assume is flowers, thanks to a card in our door saying that something large and perishable couldn’t be delivered. So we’re going to try and pick that up tomorrow.

My Aunt and Uncle had bought some bits and pieces on their journey down, so we had a sausage roll, chicken drumstick and a couple of 2-fingered KitKats each as we got back into chatting about things again. My Aunt and Uncle then left shortly before 4pm – it had taken them 5 hours to get down here, so they need time to get back for Nan and their cat. Nan decided to stay in bed today – bringing her down from London would have been too much for her. But Mum and I are planning to go up there for a long weekend soon anyway, so we’ll be able to see her then.

We were able to get back to normal again after that – we felt relieved to have the closure at last I think. While the oven warmed up for our tea (fish and chips to keep things simple), we went online and bought another suit each for ourselves from M&S, as ours had fitted so well today. It’s a mark of a good suit when you can put it on, and then forget you’re wearing it, without it weighing you down or feeling uncomfortable. I’m also pleased that I was able to do my tie up on my own – a small achievement, sure, but it’s something Dad taught me to do, yet it’s rare that I’ve ever had to do it. So I’m glad I was able to do it on such an important day for him and me. It’s another of those little things that act as nice reminders of him. Then tonight we did an online shop at Tesco, to be delivered on Saturday, and have just relaxed since then.

So we’re very happy with how today went. It all went without a hitch, the service was perfect, the weather was lovely, and it was wonderful having a few select people around us during the day to share it with. It’s exactly what we wanted, and we know it’s what Dad would have wanted. He got the celebratory, dignified, happy send-off he deserved.

Sunday January 23, 2011

This weekend we’ve been taking the opportunity to relax after the past week. We sorted out our wills with the solicitor on Friday, so that’s another important job done. And we also collected the flowers that the Royal Mail had attempted to deliver on Thursday while we were out. We’ve also written thank you cards and sent them off to our relatives to thank them for their flowers and donations.

We’re looking at going up to London probably the weekend after next now. And we might make more trips up there during the year before we move up there, which we still really want to do. So we’ve gone online and ordered a Victor Reader Stream for Mum. It’s a portable audio player specially designed to play her DAISY format talking books from the RNIB, but it also plays standard mp3 files, and even converts text to speech and allows you to record your own audio notes. She also bought a few DAISY talking books as well – the Complete Sherlock Holmes (all 4 novels and 56 short stories lasting over 87 hours, and costing just £25), Rebecca, and The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd. It was strange, too, that when I first registered Mum’s account with the RNIB Shop today, the featured product in the talking books section was a Sharpe box set – they have 5 box sets covering all of the Sharpe novels. Which is a great shame, as Dad would have loved that, bless him.

That’s about it though. I go back to work next week, so we’ll see how things go as we get back into a normal routine again. Won’t be the same ‘normal’ as it used to be, but I think we’ll adjust alright, just as we have done already.

Saturday January 29, 2011

That’s my first week back at work over and done with, and everything’s much the same as ever really. Everyone’s pleased that Mum and I have been dealing with things well, and they’re glad to have me back. Our department manager was off sick for the whole week though, so I haven’t seen him yet. We had the cream cakes he’d ordered for his birthday on Thursday though. And I’ve seen everyone else at least, it’s been good to chat to them all. There were a fair number of little jobs to do, but nothing too bad, and I’ve caught up with most of them. Apparently there was hardly anything coming in at all last week, the usual lull after Christmas by the sounds of it, so I’m glad I came back when there is actually stuff to do.

The taxi fares are going up from next week too. They’re getting new meters in, and the increase will probably incorporate things like the higher price of petrol and the VAT rise to 20%. I know they won’t want to increase it too much for regular customers like myself, but we’ll see. I started at £8.50 per trip when I first started, and I’ve been on £9.00 for a long while, so I’m probably overdue for a rise in costs anyway. We’ll see.

Other than that, Mum and I have received our draft wills in the post to check over. We’re going to try and book an appointment to go in and sign them next Friday, so we can do that and go shopping in the morning, then travel up to London for our long weekend that evening. I should be able to get Friday and the following Monday off work for that.

We’ve also received the funeral bill, which was for a reasonable amount that we’re happy to pay, and an electric bill.  Our second suits from Marks & Spencer have also been delivered, as has the Victor Reader Stream for Mum, which seems to be a good little machine. I’ve put the two new books (Rebecca and The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd) on there, and some music, so I can get used to using it, and then I can show Mum how to use it.

Our builder’s wife also came around on Thursday afternoon to have a chat with Mum, and when Mum said our family were in London and we were going to stay with them, she said that we had to move up there. So Mum told her we were already seriously considering it, and she’s right behind us on it. She’s offered to come around and help us get the place looking as good as possible before we call an estate agent in, when the time comes, and she and her husband would help us with the move if we needed it. She even made us a Victoria Sponge, so we’ve been having a bit of that each over a few nights. It’s pretty nice.

So it’s good to have an independent, trusted person’s opinion on our London decision, and it seems to have spurred us on even more to make it a reality. I’m certainly looking forward to it, and I can tell Mum really wants to be up there.

All in all, therefore, it’s been a good week. Getting back into relative normality hasn’t been too difficult so far, touch wood. And next weekend we’ll sign our wills, pay the funeral bill and then travel up to London. It’ll be good to have a few days away, we feel we’ve earned it!

Author: Glen

Love London, love a laugh, love life. Visually impaired blogger, culture vulture & accessibility advocate, with aniridia & nystagmus, posting about my experiences & adventures.

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