So Dad was gone. A big part of our lives were gone. What happened to the others in the story though? What's happened since? Well I'll tell you...
Jimmy and Marion...
Sam’s relationship with Jimmy and Marion was always a little difficult - There was never that bond of family love that parents and children should share. It is sad that this was how life for them all turned out.
Who can you blame for it all? Marion is an easy target to fill the wicked step-mother role and she certainly played her part, Jimmy could also take the blame for being weak, Could it be Cathy's fault for dying? I don't think she had a choice! We will never know how life might have turned out if she'd lived. I think maybe it was all just down to circumstance in the end.
Marion never done anything wrong to my sister or I. I couldn’t comment on her treatment of Dad when he was younger or of her dislike of Mum first hand but the stories surrounding her are legendary and to me she was obviously a bitter and jealous woman for much of her life. Jealous of a woman who had died years before and a little boy without a Mum who shared a blood tie to Jimmy she never would. Marion never allowed Jimmy to speak of Cathy. Never allowed my Dad's childhood to be mentioned. This was wrong.
It was a shame as she could be a lovely and funny woman and at times had a fantastic dry sense of humour. Neither my sister nor I saw much of her "bad" side and to us she was our Gran and we respected her because of this but in our hearts we always had another Gran who we would not and will not forget exsisted.
Sadly she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2002. She was eventually taken into full time residential care. This did nothing to dampen her temper though - she began to smoke heavily again having forgotten she’d stopped some 14 years or so earlier! She fought and argued with the staff who were there to care for her, part of this will of course have been down to her illness, part was undoubtedly Marion being herself! Strangely during her illness she would often forget dates, times and names but never once did she forget who Dad was. Never once did she mistake him for anyone else and she always remembered he was not her son but that he was Jimmy's son. She began showing Dad a bit more respect and affection. Once during a conversation, she had slipped back in time to her younger years, and she told Dad that Jimmy had asked her to marry him and that she wanted to say yes but she needed to see if it was ok with him first. If only she could have shown this warm side to the small motherless boy my Dad had been when she first met him...
She lost her fight against her illness on 4th July 2004, just 2 weeks before Sam died.
Jimmy did do something wrong to both my Sister and I. He failed us in the same way he failed my Dad for years. He never made a point of openly loving us or made the effort to be a proper Grandpa to us. Maybe this was due to the fact that there was an emotional space between him and Dad that could not be filled due to the passage of time.
Drink was Jimmy's weapon of choice and when he had been drinking he would become emotional and tell Dad, my Sister and I how we were special to him, how he loved his step family but they would never be Shaw's, they'd never be blood. We were different, we were all he had left of Cathy. This would often lead to an argument between him and Marion. He would often say that if Marion died first all he'd have left would be the 3 of us.
Jimmy was left devastated by Marion going into care, he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2003 and continued to be a heavy drinker and smoker all his life. Sam visited him every week when Marion moved to care and there did seem to be at last a thaw between himself and his only son. Following Marion's death Jimmy sat crying telling Dad how he wanted him to forgive his mistakes and wanted him to come through to see him to, as Jimmy put it, sort out the past. Maybe things would finally have been resolved and maybe things would have been different following Marion's death but we will never know because when Sam died 2 weeks after Marion Jimmy’s world crashed down around him.
I recall going to tell him his son was dead, It was horrible, imagine having to tell your Grandparent their only child had died. I saw the look of sadness wash over him. He didn’t take it in, didn’t really understand what I had said. Prophetically, he was alone for most of the week leading to Dad's funeral. His Step-children had all gone to Germany to visit relatives for a break following Marion's death. Dad had been a bit upset that they had had planned this as he thought it was too soon for him to be left alone. Personally I will never understand why upon hearing how he had lost his son they did not fly home to be with him. They surely must have known how this would affect Jimmy. True to form he hit the bottle big time and spent most of the week drowning his sorrows.
I think my Father’s death hit Jimmy on the day of his funeral. I saw something change in my Grandpa that day as he looked around and saw all the people there to pay respect to my father. I saw a man who realised for the first time that he never knew his own son. A man who realised for the first time that his son was a popular, likeable man who had the respect of many people and a friend on every corner.
I saw my Grandpa one last time 5 days later. He was just a shell, surrounded by sympathy cards for the loss of his wife and for the loss of his son. Gone was the big man of years ago who knew it all and was untouchable, in his place was an old man crushed with guilt, regret and sorrow. My Grandpa died the following day. 26 days after his wife and just 11 days after his son.
They say it was septicaemia that killed him. I think it was a broken heart. His wife was gone and now his son. The sheer knowledge of realising he had missed out on knowing his son, his last link to Cathy and as a result his Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren was a heavy burden to carry. For those final days without my Father, my Grandpa had little time for his step-children whom he had loved so well. He made it clear to me that as far as he was concerned he had lost his only child. He loved "the others" as he called them but his life was now over. These were the same "others" whom he had seemed to favour over his own child.
Jimmy died a sad and lonely old man, filled to the top with regret and guilt.
Dad's cousin and long time closest ally is still alive. He was gutted when Dad died. For the last 8 years or so Jim has not had his troubles to seek. He was diagnosed with Parkinsons which has left the powerful man we know just a shadow of his former self. He is still a proud and lovely man but he has since suffered 2 strokes and his speech and movement are restricted. He has become more reclusive...embarrassed by his current physical state...but despite it all he made a point of offering himself for the role of pall bearer at Dad's funeral. Insisting even that he'd carry Dad himself if he needed to! He is the only real member of Dad's family left that we have now. He's very special to me and despite the fact that he is Dad's cousin, he is my Uncle and I am closer to him adn my lovely Auntie Margaret (his wife) than I was to my Grandparents.
The Step Family...
We have no contact with any of them. We were never close to them anyway so it's no great loss. My Grandpa had retained certain items and pictures form my Dad's childhood. Pictures of the Shaw family, items of Cathy's, photo's of Cathy. They were kept hidden for years due to Marion's insistence that Cathy not be mentioned. I saw the box they were kept in. Grandpa showed me it the last day I saw him. Sadly my Dad's step sibilings took it upon themselves to keep it all. Why? Who knows it meant nothing to them. It wasn't even their family. Bizarrely though they did offer the stuff to my Dad's Uncle. He told them it belonged to Gill and I and refused it. They cleared his house out and didn't allow Gill or I to attend. Everyone got to but not us. They seemed to forget that legally everything belonged to us. We ended up having to send a Lawyers letter to see if we could trace the items. We eventually recieved £33 each (which we didn't want!) and a handful of old photos mostly of ourselves and a denial that any box ever exsisted. They are all predatory fuckers who pissed off to Tenerife on the money the pocketed and stole things which did not belong to them. I hope they are proud of themselves.
Me, Mum and Gill...
Nothing much changes there. We all still miss Dad but it was 2 years ago so we don't dwell on it anymore. I notice a damn sight more people say to me now "oh you're so like your Dad, the way you speak and your attitude!" than they did before. I even notice it myself more than I did. Gill and I have always been close as sisters but I think there's a new closeness between all us Shaw girls since Dad went. We've all got a new sense of how important family can be and we put up with each other more than we used to. Where before we'd bicker over daft things, we're more likely not to now. Gill seems to have matured since Dad died. I mean that in a nice way. I think she realises now that she has a big part to play in the family and it's more us looking out for Mum now than Mum looking out for us.
Mum has met someone and has been seeing him for 7 months. He's a nice man and he treats her well and he's helped her smile again. It's not hugely serious but they spend time together and enjoy each other's company. We'll see how it goes but my money will be on it lasting. Neither of them are the love 'em and leave 'em kind! There'll never be another Dad or Grandad but there is room for a *insert name here* so it's all good.
So time moves on and we are all 2 years older. Nothing much has changed though in the grand scheme of things. Dad's picture is still there in all our houses. His name is still mentioned. His mad ways and funny saying are still remembered. His grave is still full of fresh flowers and visited fairly regularly. We'd rather have life with Sam but we're doing alright in life without Sam. He's keeping our seats up there, we're not planning on joining him anytime soon though so he'll have a wait but we'll catch up one day!