Tag Archives: derbyshire

5 Years Since the Crash

8 Mar

GRANDPA ISLAY READING HIS PAPERMarch 9 marks the 5th anniversary of my father’s death. Over time the pain has dulled but whenever I think about him  it forces suppressed emotions to the surface. Last week I heard that the house opposite my parents was for sale. Ever nosy and eager to see more I googled the name of the road to find the estate agent details. Instead of house particulars I was confronted by a five year old news story about the car crash which killed my father as he was going out to buy the evening paper. Tears spilled down my cheeks.

I can’t believe that so much has happened which he hasn’t been a part of.  I have had another baby. My baby turned out to be deaf. His sister died. His other sister died. I was made redundant. My husband was made redundant.

Put like that it doesn’t seem like he’s missed much. But he’s missed the happy times too.

The deaf 3 year old is a bundle of energy who has distracted us all from the void in our lives. The deaf issue is always at the back of our minds but is by no means what defines him and his joyful nature has almost single handedly put a smile back on the face of my mother. Not one for gushing about grandchildren she can barely contain her enthusiasm for him.

I tried for years to persuade my parents to move back to Scotland but since my father died my mother has reluctantly bought a flat in Edinburgh. She still has the house and countless friends in Derbyshire but now refers to the flat here as ‘home’ and makes more friends every time she comes up.

The 9 & 12 year old have transformed from High School Musical obsessed little girls to sport obsessed pre teens. He would definitely prefer hearing them talk about hockey, swimming and cross country results than watch them prance around clad in synthetic cheerleader outfits.

I’m not sure how he would react to my setting up my own business. He was a job for life kind of man and wouldn’t have encouraged me to take any risks but I think he’d have been pleasantly surprised by how things are going. Though possibly less relaxed now that my husband has been made redundant and Brownlee Donald Associates is going to have to support both of us.

I miss him for the financial advice I know he would give me. I miss reaching my arms around him for a big hug – he wasn’t tactile so wouldn’t have offered it first! I miss him for being a wonderful grandfather to my children. I miss him for looking after my mother. I miss his sparkling blue eyes which live on in my children. Five years on I just miss my lovely dad.


My father

10 Mar

When I talked about a daddy shaped hole in our lives being filled over and needing to be bludgeoned open again I hadn’t meant my own daddy or expected the hole to be bludgeoned with such force.  Shortly after making such flippant comments my whole world turned upside down when I received a phone call from my mother in Derbyshire.  She cares deeply about everyone, wears her heart on her sleeve and has been known to call me in tears about someone I have never met and she knows only slightly being diagnosed with a terminal illness so when I had a calm phone call from her telling me that my father had been in a car accident I initially thought nothing too serious had happened.  Then I realised that the words she was saying didn’t stack up to the calm way in which they were delivered.

Although she insisted I didn’t need to do anything and should wait for another phone call I immediately began checking the computer for flights to East Midlands, discovering to my distress that the last of the night had left five minutes before.  Fifteen minutes later, as I was poised to book one for the following morning we got another call to say that it was more serious, his heart had stopped for ten minutes and he was too weak to get a scan.  To my surprise my mother didn’t complain when I said we were coming right down and we rushed round the house bundling children into pyjamas and clothes into bags.  It was the worst journey of my life.  At best it is a five hour journey from Edinburgh to Derbyshire and every step of the way I was getting ever more tragic updates culminating with a phone call when we were in Newcastle to say that he had died from massive internal bleeding.  I had to call my brother who was equally helpless waiting in a departure lounge in New York and we both sobbed down the phone to each other, in contrast to my mother who, when I eventually reached her at the hospital, was still unbelievably stoical being supported by a close friend.  Three days on she still hasn’t cried.

I made the decision to go and see my father in his hospital bed and slightly wish I hadn’t.  Although his body was there his golfers tan was yellow and waxen, his twinkling blue eyes were closed and his permanent smile was replaced by an open mouth which only resembled his expression when he’d fallen asleep in front of the TV.  When I held his cold hand it didn’t feel like his but when I clutched his expansive chest it at least felt like the bear hug I gave him every time I left home.  None of us slept when we got home that night.  The sleeping children were transferred to bed and my mother, husband and I sat up drinking brandy and trying to make sense of the days events.  Eventually at about 3.30am mum announced she would need a hot water bottle if she were going to sleep in their bed without dad there to warm her and I offered to sleep beside her to keep her company.  I had never slept there before, as a child I was desperate to but was invariably frog marched back to my room so it was weird being in that situation at the age of 41. After no sleep the first night I completely passed out the second but by the third I couldn’t sleep and would wake from nightmares to realise that reality was even worse.  Having woken mum with my sobs I realised that it was probably better to get up and attend to all the admin which was buzzing round my head.

There is so much admin. Not only the funeral which involves the church, the crematorium, the undertakers and the hotel where we’re inviting people afterwards but in our case the police and the local paper who have been doorstepping us in the hope of a vicious comment about speeding or an emotional outburst about what an amazing man he was.  This morning after dealing with endless calls arranging the funeral I felt slightly more in control then collapsed when I read the shout line on the hoarding outside the newsagents announcing details of the horror death of a local man.

I am not sure how I will cope with the next few days let alone the next few weeks but I know for certain that I wouldn’t have got this far without the tremendous support of friends, family and the husband I so cruelly maligned last week. I am very, very lucky to have him and I have never felt so close to my brother.  I’m so glad that we brought the kids with us.  They have brought light into our darkest hours, the four year old with her innocence of the situation and the seven year old with her sensitivity.  However the person who has given me the most support is ironically the person I am supposed to be supporting.  For the time being at least, my mother has taken complete control of the situation and is holding the family together.  My father would be proud, mum has slipped effortlessly into his role and is proving that she really is our rock.

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