Thursday, 19 January 2017

Death: It's behind you.

You will have to forgive the glib header today.  I realise that the pantomime season is coming to a close but I just couldn't resist. You see I am a product of my father's attitude to death and life after death. Some folk live their whole lives preparing for it: Others don't. Best thing is not to live in fear of death, just accept the inevitability of it and make sure that where possible, others do not suffer from yours.

Beyond adequate life insurance to provide for your family in the event of your untimely death and a policy that provides for funeral expenses that don't burden others, living an active and enjoyable life is more important. For some people, it takes a near death experience before they actually begin to take risks and really get the most out of life.

Dad used to say that sometimes you have to take life and shake it by the tail. He loved a party, he enjoyed competing, played golf, snooker, music and loved a bet on a horse. He danced, he travelled, went fishing, he loved gardening, he sang and he laughed. At 83 he was still having lessons on a piano keyboard but finally gave up because he realised that he was having the same lesson every week. He knew that death was closing in on him but he was still in love with life. He wasn't giving up the ghost willingly.

My happiest memories are of the times he danced with me. In a parent and child cha cha competition at The Adelphi in Liverpool, we won first prize, even though he went wrong at the end of the routine and I stormed off the dance floor, (I was seven - I still have the trophy). At my eighteenth birthday party when all my disco maniac friends watched us foxtrot with their mouths open. With Mum at their Golden Wedding anniversary party, two years after he was brought back from the brink by paramedics, who injected adrenaline directly into his heart after a massive coronary.

Death is always there, somewhere, stalking us. One day it will tap us on the shoulder. If we are lucky we will recognise it and change our lifestyle to keep it at arms length. Perhaps by the time it claims us, we will welcome it as a we would a trusted friend. When we die, what follows? Reincarnation? Heaven? Limbo? A journey down the River Styx to pay the ferryman? Who can say for sure?

On the Wednesday before my father died, I visited him in hospital. He told me to take good care of my children.  I kissed him on the forehead and left. I didn't see him alive again: He died on the Friday. Monday was May Day bank holiday and his body would not be released until Tuesday. On the Friday evening I was at home, sitting on the patio wall when a hand brushed my hair. On the Saturday afternoon, I was at my parent's house and as I opened the door to a florist, something walked right through me and I felt euphoric. On the Sunday afternoon, I was with a friend in my kitchen.  I suddenly felt that something was wrong with one of my children who were playing with her two children at her house. 

The friend tried to reassure me that they were with her husband and were perfectly safe. Despite this, I grabbed my bottle of Rescue Remedy, ran through the house, down the driveway and as I turned towards her house, my children were running towards me.  Katie, the youngest was on the outside and fell off the kerb. Before she could even cry, I had lifted her onto my hip and put a drop of Rescue onto her tongue. The friend had followed me out and was flabbergasted.  She said she had never witnessed anything like that in her life. As we walked back into my house, I saw my father standing close to the hedge on my driveway. I instantly realised that he was there to chastise me because I was not looking after the children myself.  

As for what happens after we die. I am not sure. I only saw him once. His body was cremated soon afterwards and perhaps his soul went then. It did leave me with a lasting impression. I saw Dad on the third day after his death. It just gives me enough space to wonder... In the end, only three things matter, how much you loved, how gently you lived and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.


Joe Black 


Enjoy your lives.  Thanks for reading.  Adele


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