Well we made it from birth to here....
Monday 19th July…
To me this is the day the world stopped turning, at least for a while, Monday 19th July 2004.
It started with a phone call. I answered to hear my Mum screaming down the phone. I couldn't make out much of what she was saying but I heard the words “I think he’s dead”. I didn’t wait for anything else. I told her I was coming and slammed the phone down.
I have never moved so fast in my life. Luckily I was driving around at the time in a nice sports car more than capable of getting me to Mum's in record time, although when I arrived I slammed the gears into park while the car was still moving and very nearly buggered the tiptronic gearbox!
I had a bad feeling. Mum and Dad had just moved house 9 days earlier and were now 5 minutes from me. The ambulance had arrived when I got there and they were upstairs doing their stuff. I knew he wasn't coming back as soon as I got in the door and realised they were still working on him. Too much time had passed now. I will never forget the sound of the machines beeping, the electronic voice saying "no pulse, begin cpr, check pulse, no pulse, begin cpr" over and over again. Nor the sound of the paramedic thumping on my Dad's chest to try and make it go again. Or the sound of that same paramedic shouting at my Dad to "come on big man". 10 minutes later a paramedic confirmed what I knew in just 10 simple words -"I'm sorry there's nothing more we can do. He's gone".
My Mum's face said it all as she just shook her head and said “no, he can’t be”. I'd like to thank the paramedic's for what they did, I'd also like to hate them for not doing more...It's just the way you feel. So it was that I lost my Daddy. Quick and sudden. Just like he would have wanted. No chance to think about it or watch him suffer. I swear to god when that man said those words I felt my heart crack.
The police had arrived as it was a death at home and he sat with us asking a few questions about Dad for his notes. It seems surreal to look back on it now. The silence between the questions was deafening. Just me, Mum and this poor policeman who didn’t know what to say to us. There was no crying, just shock. I remember him asking if Mum wanted Dad's jewellery and telling us it was best to take it now as it wasn't unknown for things to go missing after the event. I remember phoning Geoff who had stayed home with the kids and just saying “he’s gone and I need you here”. All I could think of was how to tell my Sister. She was at home with her kids and I just couldn’t bring myself to call her and tell her. I didn’t want her to be alone when she heard. I made my mind up that I’d send Geoff to tell her. I rang my mate Nikki who took over with the kids and for that I will always be grateful, and Geoff went to get my Sister. I phoned some close family and friends to let them know and it was only when I realised everyone sounded so sleepy that I saw it was 6am. It felt much later.
I went upstairs to see my Dad. The policeman wasn’t keen but I felt I had to. He looked different. Strange as it seems, I believe that as soon as the heart stops and the breath is out of you, the spirit that made you what you were is away. It was my Dad lying there but the spark and light was gone. I sat on the edge of the bed. Dad was in it the wrong way round with his feet at the top end. The bed at a funny angle as the paramedica had moved it to make room to put him on the floor while they worked on him. I touched him and tried to close his mouth but it wouldn’t stay shut. I said "Oh Dad what have you done?". I kissed his cheek, put my head on his bare chest like I did as a child and whispered "Bye Dad".
My Aunt and Uncle arrived minutes later closely followed by two of Mum and Dad’s oldest friends. The house which had been so quiet was now full of the sound of crying. Except for me. I put the kettle on. The undertakers van arrived a few minutes later and everyone went into the kitchen so Mum didn’t have to see Dad going out in a body bag. Except my Uncle’s and I. Geoff arrived with my Sister just after they left. She was in pieces as was Geoff. I put the kettle on again.
The rest of the week was a blur. We didn't know what had killed him and when we could organise a funeral because we had to wait for a post-mortem to be done. We didn't eat, we didn’t sleep much. We drank tea and talked. The house was full of people, flowers and cards.
We were hoping to have his funeral on the Saturday as there were people coming from far and wide so this made most sense. It’s a long process though and eventually I began harassing undertakers, procurator fiscals and mortuary staff to get things moving. My Dad had died from Respiratory Failure and a Probable Acute Asthma Attack. Just like his Mum all those years ago. Turned out my Dad had the windpipe of a small child, it hadn’t fully developed which is why the paramedics couldn’t get a tube in his throat and save his life. I went to the mortuary to collect the necessary paperwork and we got our Saturday funeral.
We went to see my Dad one last time, in the funeral parlour, in his coffin. I was terrified. I don't like dead things even when they are your Dad! We said our goodbyes, gave him his paper and a few wee bits to see him on his way and that was that.
Saturday 24th July…
The day of the funeral dawned and it was chaos at Mum’s that morning. The place was filled with people, many of them standing or sitting outside as they couldn’t get in the house. The journey to Mortonhall Cemetray and Crematorium was uneventful. When we arrived though…I couldn’t believe my eyes. Hundreds of people standing waiting for us. They all seem a blur but you pick out the unlikeliest faces in the crowd. Ross for all his lack of height was one of them. A lone piper (sent by his old regiment as a mark of respect) walked in front of the hearse and played Amazing Grace. I have never heard anything so beautiful. Bagpipes have a strange effect on folk, as soon as it began you could see people reaching for hankies and sobbing.
My uncle read out the eulogy which my sister and I had written about Dad. It mentioned, his roots, his love of Glasgow Rangers FC, Bowling and a pint, there was a story that summed up Dad’s nature in full and of course we told how much he loved his family. It’s easy to make martyrs out of the dead. To turn them into something in death that they never were in life but I think we told it how he was. We found out later that there had been over 450 people there on the day. It was fantastic to see everyone there for my Dad. In the days following his funeral, the anti climax of it all kicked in and the penny dropped. My Dad was gone. I don’t think the pain will ever go away. The hole in my life he’s left behind will never be filled. I honestly believe a bit of your heart dies each time you lose a loved one. Dad has took a chunk of mine away but despite it all I still laugh, smile and carry on. He’s left behind such great memories for us all and each one brings a smile, and I’ll remember something about him, something he said or did and I just laugh out loud!
So there you have it. Finito except for the aftermath.