One year then, dad!…… One year since we lost you……. One year since we last witnessed that warm smile…… One year without your words of wisdom……. One year robbed of that calming persona that underpinned the family dynamic.
One year which has no doubt seen profits at the Connie Club and the bookie’s on Bradford Road’s plunge……. One year since I last heard the habitual query “Have you still got my Bobby Darrin cd, Gary?”……. One year without witnessing the forensic symmetry of comestible packing in your Sainsburys trolley…… One year since casa Strachan’s stringently followed cooking times were rigidly upheld to the second.
Consequently, not only have family and friend’s existences been the worse for your loss, MJ Strachan’s departure has also been a catalyst for a downturn in the local East Ardsley economy…… Not to mention rendering the timer button on the cooker redundant.
This morning, on waking I was greeted with the same slate-grey tincture that tarnished West Yorkshire skies on this day last year. I’d slept better than I did twelve months ago, but can’t say I felt much better for the additional slumber.
Although, I’ve already written around 200 words, when I woke I had no intention of writing a narrative from scratch. My was was to merely share the words from the first monologue I wrote after the old man’s passing one year ago today. Prose I’ve entered in bold text below:-
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 hold 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, if St Peter plans to renovate the Pearly Gates anytime soon 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