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The King’s Spirit

Today marks the second anniversary of my dad’s passing. Twenty four months during which I learned for the first time in half century on this screwed up planet what loss truly meant. A valuable lesson formed from consequential emotions evoked at the realisation I’d never again being able to share the company of a dearly loved family member.

This two years enlightening me that deprivation of anything other than a cherished individual’s existence isn’t a true loss, they’re inconveniences that can be overcome. An awareness manifested a more philosophical approach by yours truly to existential stumbling blocks.

I still get frustrated and angry in certain situations, however, being unable to locate possessions, my garden re-cycle bin not being emptied, Sainsburys not stocking an ingredient I desire and a Leeds United defeat are imposters that no longer rankle with a ferocity of yore.

Despite the manifestation of the positive above, though, large swathes of the last forty eight months have been spent being blindsided by numerous triggers of melancholy. These reminders producing a feeling in the pit of my stomach akin to the experienced of descending at speed on a rollercoaster. Sadly though, unlike the thrill ride, the sinking stomach moments aren’t prefixed or suffixed by uplifting adrenaline rushes.

King & I

Fortunately, the family have numerous fond memories of Malcolm Strachan to cling onto. Recollections that, from a personal perspective, act as a lifebuoy when more powerful metaphorical eddying currents drag me into a tormenting dark ocean of mental despair. Among them, feeling truly blessed to have had this beautiful man as my father and mentor.

I’d like to clarify, I do realise the grief experienced since the death of my selfless, loving, caring father is what many hundreds of thousands globally encounter every year. It has to be dealt with; life goes on for us he left behind. Something I endeavour to do through the upkeep of his garden and various other odd jobs for my mother, Margaret. His wife of fifty seven years upon who he doted.

What have I learned in the last two years since he passed in the early hours of 11th October 2017 of Wakefield Hospice? Room seven his departure lounge during those final four days prior to leaving this vale of tears. A serene environment where he and loved ones received such excellent support and care. 

For starters, I’ll never be able to walk into my mum’s home without that pit of the stomach feeling on witnessing his empty chair. A similar emotion/feeling now experienced when strolling down Lowfields Road toward Leeds United’s football ground, as I did with him on numerous occasions from 1970 onwards. The same ‘punched gut’ feeling will also be my lifelong companion as I walk into Headingley Stadium (where his ashes are scattered) to watch his beloved Yorkshire County Cricket Club play.

I’ve only just reached a juncture of emotional stability where I can play the audio disks in his eclectic CD collection. An act he and I would regularly undertake in his dining room, ordinarily accompanied with a glass of vino and his words of wisdom.

Advocacies always starting from a baseline of positivity, never using strong curse words (my siblings and me evidently learning those from other less eloquent individuals on our life sojourn). In all the years his eldest son (me) was blessed to have his company I don’t recollect him ever saying anything disparaging about anyone, a remarkable trait I’ve never seen in any other life acquaintance.

Instead, dad and I would engage in more dignified chats relating to sporting memories, music and family history. The conversation only broken by his changing of CD, which, as was his selfless nature, he’d generally ask me to choose.

For many months I struggled to look through the wooden unit housing those music albums which accompanied so many happy hours in the company of my old man. A bit like Pandora’s Box, yours truly reticent to open the doors due to angst at the strength of emotions it’d evoke.

Mind you, I don’t always attempt to avoid triggers of melancholy. His red leather reclining seat, dining room in situ, has had the dubious pleasure of having my posterior parked upon it on numerous occasions since his passing. Admittedly, though, I felt somewhat irreverent at being perched on his ‘throne’ at first.

When parking my backside on his chair after he’d gone I’d uncomfortable thoughts I was expressing an unintended subliminal message of ‘The king is dead…… Long live the king!‘ A vain glorious notion that couldn’t have been further from my intention; not to mention it being a crown of which I’m not, or ever will be, worthy.

Despite our emptiness at the loss of our beloved family head, the family’s attempted to emerge from these two years without him with a mantra ‘The king is dead….. Long live the king’s spirit. A mission statement of which he’d no doubt approve.

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