The Builder's dad died, eventually peacefully, at 19:55 on Wednesday 7th May. Gwen was with him. So were Terry and Jenny. Marie had not long left to go home and sort her boys out. Peter was about, but had stepped out of the room shortly before Mick died. We were at home. The Builder had said his godobyes on Monday and there didn't seem to be much that would usefully be gained by us dashing about on Wednesday evening.
We went down on Thursday morning instead. Accompanied by not a lot of traffic, but what traffic there was was VERY slow! We were held up on the motorway for about half an hour, and later sat behind a large van doing 40 MPH in a 60 zone for another half an hour. So we were late to Gwen's place - but arrived in time for a corned beef sandwich for lunch. I haven't had a corned beef sandwich for absolutely years! It was rather a nice taste reminisce!
I have finally met the elusive Peter. He lives in the same set of units as Gwen and popped in and out in the course of the afternoon. Somewhat to my surprise, he doesn't appear to have cloven feet, horns or an pointy tail. Seems quite human, really. The Builder (and later Barb) tell me he was on his very best behaviour that day and doesn't normally behave like that! Then we went to the hospital where we met Marie, Tim, Terry and Jenny. Gwen and The Builder went and collected the cause of death certificate and then we went, escorted by a lovely lady from the hospital, and viewed Mick in the hospital mortuary. I've never been to a hospital viewing before and I must say I have slightly mixed feelings about it. Clearly it was good for Gwen, particularly, to see him in a slightly tidier condition than at the moment he had died. I'm not sure it was a beneficial thing for those of us who were not at his deathbed to have done though. She said he looked very peaceful (which was true) and as though he were just asleep. I can't say he looked asleep to me. He wasn't there. His body was, of course, but he wasn't. I don't know where he's gone, but he wasn't in that room. His body was all wrapped up in what looked like a green curtain or bedspread and looked more like an alabaster statue than anything else.
We didn't stay long. Tim went home to look after the boys after school, and everyone else squished back into Gwen's place to await the undertaker. The very large undertaker. The very large and ebullient undertaker. He is known to The Builder and Barb from various horticultural society events. I think Peter knows him too. It has to be said, he is very good at his job! He was exceeding cheeky to Gwen and made her laugh - a lot :-). The funeral is next Thursday, 15th May at 09:45 in the Salisbury crem, followed by the interment of the ashes in the Nunton Churchyard at 2, followed by lunch in The Orchards Dayroom. Family flowers only. Donations to the Asthma Association or the Diabetes Association. Thursday, of course, was the one day next week when it was going to be very difficult for me to be away - I was supposed to be doing an evening duty in the Adsetts Centre. Fortunately, the folks at work have sorted it all out and someone else is doing it.
Barb arrived at Gwen's. And we left. Not because Barb had arrived but because it is 200 miles or so from Salisbury to our place and we didn't want to be back too late! Although - we didn't need to worry about the cat. I had sent a message to Tammy next door asking her to feed him and she had said she would. So that was OK.
But when were The Builder and I to eat? We called into the Salisbury city centre and dropped into the Cloisters pub. Haven't eaten in there before. Will do again. The scampi was lovely!
We neither of us went to work on Friday. Thursday had been a very long day and we were both absolutely knackered. I declared Friday an R&R day. We went to Chatsworth and spent an inordinate amount of money on fish. We went into Chesterfield for a spot of shopping. We had lunch in the Rutland (as we usually do if in Chesterfield at lunchtime). We went to the garden centre in Hasland for pond supplies. We pottered about at home and sat outside with our gin/vodka and tonic. It was a good opportunity to recover a bit of equillibrium. It's odd, really. I can't say that I am very sad about Mick's death. It seems to me that it was absolutely the best thing that could have happened. The Builder, his mother and the rest of the family are, of course, very sad - but also very stoical and agreed that it was the best thing for Mick. No one would wish him back, not in the state he's been in for the last few months and especially the last fortnight. But the presence of Death quite so close leaves a very odd feeling. I would say it was sobering, but that is not quite the word. Sombre? Perhaps. But it has left me with a wish to fight back - to make or do something; to celebrate life. So today I am making chutney with rhubarb from the garden, and we have been planting seeds and getting ready for what we hope will be a food glut in the summer and autumn.
Tabitha has sent me an autographed photograph of Paul Darrow dressed as Avon from Blake's 7. Now that's a brooding presence to have in the lounge room!