Raising A Glass

I didn’t feel compelled to sit down and pen my daily thoughts yesterday. The darkness of the place I found myself following the passing of my father overnight prohibiting any creative want……. On reflection, perhaps grieving alone in the cupboard under the stairs wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Our beloved family head passed away peacefully around midnight in his hospice room. His broods emotions torn between the sadness at being bereft of such a beautiful human being, and relief his year long fight and pain was over.

Mally looked at peace as he laid at rest. The lines on his face that gave away the pain he was enduring (despite his protestations he was fine) now conspicuous by their absence. His agony no longer residing on this proud Yorkshireman’s visage; it’s new tenancy the hearts and knotted stomachs of the many who held him dear.

I’m unsure how long this pain will reside in our hearts, but I do know it’ll be longer than the year of it’s unwelcome existence aboard my paters pained anatomy.

I suppose “He was a lovely man!” (unless the deceased is a woman of course) can be a cliché when discussing those recently passed. A ‘go to’ saying as we scramble for the words that can adequately reflect our sorrow. In my dad’s case, however, those five words grossly undersell this true gentleman.

I can honestly say that in over half a century of having the pleasure of this man’s company I never heard him bad mouth anyone, or indeed ever utilise the ‘f’ word. Which bearing in mind I’m his son is an effing amazing achievement!

I suspect my brother, sister and I got dad’s quota of brisk language. One thing for sure is that if St Peter plans to renovate the Pearly Gates it won’t be financed by swear box contributions from my old man.

Like our mum, he preferred to look for positive aspects of an individual’s persona. A far harder accomplishment than inherent negativity; it’s certainly something I struggle to achieve.

I’ll miss being regularly quizzed, as I left chez Strachan senior, if I’ve still got that CD of his or another such item I’d borrowed off him. When we saw him at rest after his passing, what I’d have given for him to open one eye and ask “Have you still got my ladders, Gary?!” or “When you gonna bring my Jools Holland CD back?”

The witnessing of the end of life phase at close hand has been emotionally draining for all the family. Sitting day after day, hour after hour watching a loved one suffer is distressing, especially one to whom I owe so much.

Perhaps the most poignant moment of the whole experience was on Monday afternoon. The family were congregated in dad’s hospice room, when the unborn baby of my sister Helen (who’s eight months pregnant) was visibly kicking from her bump. Two feet away was the granddad she’ll never get to see enduring the remaining hours of his life. A melancholic reminder of the circle of life.

My soon to be born niece may never get to see her grandfather, however her elder cousins, parents, aunts and uncles will ensure she is made fully aware of what a thoroughly wonderful man her forefather was.

RIP Malcolm Strachan





9 Comments Add yours

  1. Penny Oldham says:

    Such a beautifully written blog. I dont know you and your family but I have the pleasure of working with your incredible sister. It is so incredibly sad that that little girl growing inside her will never meet your Dad. My thoughts and prayers are with you all xxx

    1. Thanks Penny. I appreciate your kind feedback.

  2. Rob Harrison says:

    Beautifully written Gary. The physical pain will always reside in your heart i’m afraid, and you will find that grieving is an emotional rollercoaster. Some days you will be fine, then a thought or a song or photograph will hit you hard, and you will hit rock bottom. But trust me, the saying ‘time is a healer’ is true, and as long as you have your family and friends around you, and talking about all the great memories you have will help you along the process of life. Keep talking and writing my friend. Rob.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Rob

  3. Gary Hannah says:

    That is so well written. I hesitate to say I enjoyed reading it as I could feel your pain throughout. However, it captures the man or should I say gentleman and you raise a smile when you talk about Malcolms life.
    Time will ease your pain. You will have sad thoughts of your dads passing but, eventually, they will be overwhelmed by very fond memories of the 50 years you shared together.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories. My thoughts are with you all. Gary xx

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Gary. My dad was very fond of you and our other friends. He will be touched by your sentiments. I’ll message the funeral details seperately.

  4. Bill Scully says:

    A beautifully written, touching and authentic tribute to my cousin, Malcolm. Well done, Gary! Your mum and the rest of your family are in our prayers at this sad time. God bless!

    1. Thanks Bill. My dad was very fond of his Scully cousins. I’ll keep you updated as to his funeral details.

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