August 27th 1934- December 6th 2021
December 6th, I’ll never forget this date, possibly about 9:10 in the morning when I had to pull in at wankers lay by, next to the caravan site at Saltmarshe Castle, the place with the fancy mobile homes with the decks, looking out over the fields towards Bromyard, not exactly the South Seas and therefore not exactly lanai adjoining the holiday homes, the illusion of a tropical holiday shattered by the thick mixed native hedge; razor cut recently for the winter, the clippings littering the roadsides, and the wankers lay by.
An unknown number came up on my phone and due to the past 6 or 7 weeks of unknown hospital telephone calls I pulled over surprised i’d receive anything down this way apart from a full English and a Pint of the Amber Nectar at the castle bar. It was the hospital, Ward 1. Dad was coming home tomorrow (7th) and was really looking forward to being home when we spoke to him yesterday (5th). He sounded upbeat, despite his partial paralysis, and was really looking forward to seeing his Friends, Wife, Son and Grand Kids, in no particular order. Just upbeat, speaking more lucidly than he had done for years I thought, not stroke stumbling over words which he had been doing for 2 decades now. No he seemed relaxed.
But the phone call came, and they told me, somewhat unbelievably, that my Dad was gravely ill having collapsed, well as much as you can when you are confined to a chair, while he was being helped to clean his teeth and wash his face after a previously hearty cheerful breakfast, his penultimate one before he came home. He was gravely ill and I should probably try to get to the hospital asap. I was about 3 hours away, with lose ends to tie up, if I was to rush to Leicester for however long. So I hung up and told them I’d make a few calls and then get over, with my Mum. 30 seconds later they called me up agin and told me there was nothing more they could have done.
And within the blink of an eye, in the rolling, muddy, windswept, squally Herefordshire countryside in Wankers Lay By, I realised that my Dad had died. No warning, just as it sounds. Bang, gone.