An open letter—upon the anniversary of my father’s death—to absent friends, and the Scottish relatives, with whom we have lost touch

15 June 2016

Dear Christopher

I’m sorry to have to let you know that Dad died suddenly on Saturday, 21 May 2016.  He was 87.

It was an abdominal aneurysm, and both Jean and I were with him.

He was a remarkably fit man for his age, but things had started to go wrong with him the last few years.  He had trouble with his eyes, and could no longer drive (he’d been driving for 70 years).  He had also been troubled by a pain in his shoulder for quite some time, which was getting no better.  Pain-killers didn’t help and neither did physiotherapy.  They got him on codeine, which did take away the pain, but upset his stomach.  He finally had a scan, though we never did get the results from that.

Jean took on most of the looking-after of Dad, since my husband is still getting over side-effects from treatment—it is a case of him building up again, though it is still difficult for him to eat.

Someone or other was over at Dad’s every day—I saw him when I could.  Tommy visited Dad just about every day—Tommy could hardly walk, but could drive, and Dad could no longer drive, but could walk better than Tommy—they managed things between them pretty well!

Dad tried to keep the garden going—he was interested in that, Sudoku and crosswords—but it was getting more difficult.  Again—Tommy would help—they would do a line each with the lawn mower!

So, all in all, Dad was beginning to lose his independence, and we feel that the way he went was the best for him.

He didn’t suffer much, or for long.  I went with him in the ambulance to the hospital, and Jean followed in the car.  We both spoke to him, and then they got us out of the room.

Not long after, someone came to tell us he’d taken a turn for the worse, and we should go in.

Jean and I both told him what a good Dad he was—he was conscious at that point, and then—it sounds like a cliché, but the light just went out of his eyes.  His heart had stopped, and that was it.

They suspected the aneurysm, and did get a specialist there before he died, who confirmed it.  They also gave him a scan after death, for final confirmation—and so he didn’t have to have an autopsy.

The funeral was on 3 June, and everything went well—we had garden flowers for him, and there was a framed photograph on his coffin, which set everyone off crying.

Connie and Dennis are still reasonably well.  Connie sends you her best regards.

I believe you wrote to Dad, quite some time ago, to tell him that John had died of a heart attack—we were so sorry to hear about that.  He said he was going to write, but I’m not sure if he did.

I hope that you and everyone else are okay.

Yours sincerely


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