Here I am in England - preparing for Dad's funeral on Thursday afternoon.
How is it all?
Strange. Tiring. Emotional. A mind-numbing list of Things to Do with the will, the bank accounts, the finances, the tax, the pension...etc etc. Planning the funeral...the catering for the tea party after the funeral, the flowers, the guests...etc. But also transferring many things of my step-mum's affairs over to her sister...so we both feel we are doing double things; Dad's Death AND Jane's ongoing needs.
Oh and we are trying to rehome their dog. And the gardener has cancer and cleaning lady is moving....
In all of this my step-mum seems to have revived and is very on-the-ball mentally. So-so physically. Eating a little again and still fighting off the superbug virus. But she is determined to come to the funeral - friends who have a handicapped son have offered to collect her (and nurse) from the hospital in their special minivan with wheelchair...and strong relatives will carry her into the church.
I didn't sleep at all the first stormy night and just sat up with all the lights in the house switched on. My Dad died of an accute blood clot in the pancreas - on the living room carpet on Monday night. The poor postman found him two days later, with the dog sitting next to Dad's body. The postman feels terrible that he could have helped Dad on the Tuesday because he feels he heard Dad say something...but didn't see him. I feel sure what he heard was the dog whining or moaning...but of course he feels so guilty.
So knowing all of that - even though I don't think he was possibly alive Tuesday lunchtime - makes it hard to sleep. The house has many mixed images and memories for me.
The next two nights I sort of slept because I was so tired. And then I took up the kind offer of a couple who live nearby to go and have dinner and sleep at their place. Today Jane's sister has arrived from Canada to stay and I think I'll sleep better.
Tomorrow afternoon I am going to go into the funeral company and spend some time in their Quiet Room saying goodbye to Dad. I dont't know how that will be. I've only ever seen a dead person once before. But I feel I want to. He died alone and the funeral will be an emotional day of people and happenings...I want to say goodbye quietly with him.
Not all doom and gloom. Sorting through photographs was wonderful: pictures I'd never seen of Dad as a young photographer at Keystone Press Agency in the 1940s, then a navy camerman in the Pacific..and finall more than 35 years at the Daily Mirror. His terrible school reports, baby pictures, divorce papers, childhood letters from me that he kept...I feel I have learned so much more about him in the last few days.
But. The funeral looms large. I have to do a Tribute speech. I am trying to write it now. I stood in the church with the village church warden and tested the microphone today. It all seemed very, horribly real.