It would also have been my 34th wedding anniversary! There’s a pattern here …
That was me embarking on my weekly critique on life; content, for the moment, in the mundane; forgetful of the potency of time. One phonecall later and my world changed irrevocably leaving these words consigned to ‘desktop’ and a spirit sorely tried.
‘Your father passed away at 4.30 this morning.’
No ‘sorry’, no sadness, rather inhumane and devoid of any compassion whatsoever. Thank you, Pauline. Deserving of a job laying concrete rather than one requiring of kindness and empathy!
Those were the words I received on Tuesday, 16th October when I phoned the care home. Thankfully, the phonecall of the previous Friday alerted me to the inevitable and I was able to say ‘goodbye’ to my beloved Pop, and Becca and Manny – who dropped everything to be there – were able to tell their Bapa just how much he meant to them.
‘What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.’
The words of Nelson Mandela on the occasion of the ninetieth birthday celebration of Walter Sisulu, Johannesburg, South Africa, 18 May 2002.
Nelson Mandela By Himself. The Authorised Book of Quotations.
In the end, that’s all that is left … the memories; one’s legacy is borne from/out of the way in which one touched or influenced the lives of others, inspiring love, respect or, in the case of some, pity and contempt. It dawned on me that I am who I am because of Pop. Similar in so many ways, we shared an unbreakable bond rooted in humour; sarcasm, to be precise. He was a Glaswegian, at the end of the day, whose laugh I shall never forget, particularly following his own jokes! Regardless of content, one could not fail to smile in recognition of his obvious enjoyment.
In my mind, l can picture him sitting on his seat in the Morning Room, Thursday evening, still in his suit having collected us from school, paper up – Top of the Pops! He muttered as Jimmy Savile pranced around, cigar in hand, bemoaning the likes of Marc Bolan and David Bowie; however, the paper never failed to be put down at the announcement of Pans’ People!
How he loved and laughed at Morecombe & Wise, Les Dawson, Rikki Fulton, Billy Connolly and Bruce Forsyth on The Generation Game. It was infectious and, strangely, I recognised the importance of these times, filing them away under ‘precious memories’.
As he lay, skeletal, in his bed barely able to acknowledge us, the radio was on in the background and I asked him what the hell he was listening to … ‘It’s better than your rubbish’, he managed to whisper!
He used to buy my ‘rubbish’ every Tuesday at Bruce’s record shop in Kirkcaldy. His afternoon for a clinic at the Victoria Hospital, he would make a note of the latest single I requested – inevitably something Osmond related – never disappointing. A ‘mad psychiatrist’ he might have been but he never let his little girl down and I still treasure some of these 45s to this day.
Always there for reassurance, his sayings will live on. The voice of calm, I believed him when he told me that ‘It will all fall into place’ or when he said ‘There’s a plan for every man’. Who will tell me that now?
Clearing out his room on Tuesday was harrowing but I smiled when I opened his mobile phone:’ Trish’, 156 calls! He called me every night at 6.30pm and every week I would print out a copy of my blog, putting it in an envelope accompanied by a little note requesting his feedback – how I laughed when he told me I had made a grammatical error or a spelling mistake. That was my Pop!
He garnered all his strength when Manny walked into the room on Saturday evening, offering his skeletal hand and whispering, ‘My favourite grandson’! Manny smiled, locking these words away in his heart.
Becca he told to go back to Rome … sage to the end. It’s funny, they didn’t see him often; life pulls families apart but the bond remained.
Me? Becca and I went to the West Sands on Monday evening as the sun was setting. It was idyllic, reminiscent of that summer evening in 1964 when the Sherret family hit town! The start of an adventure and a childhood for which I shall be eternally grateful. We picked some wild flowers and looked for shells before returning to his bedside to say ‘goodnight’, all the time knowing that it was ‘goodbye’. I told him it was still the ‘paradise’ he remembered and put a flower on his pillow …
A legacy secure, he lives on in those he loved and who loved him back. Perhaps fitting that I end with one of the last jokes he told me – you had to hear him tell it!
Picasso’s house is broken into and the police are called. Enquiring as to whether Picasso saw the burglar, they suggest he produce a drawing of the suspect.
The following day, the police arrest a horse with a can of sardines!
I, actually, didn’t get it immediately but he laughed and laughed. God speed, Pop …
This is Trish, signing off.
‘Half As Good As You’, Tom Odell …