The Long Goodbye

My Dad sadly passed away just over a week ago on 6th March 2011 and we said our final goodbye to him today at the memorial service. In reality it’s been a long goodbye to my Dad as he had been suffering over the last 2 years or more from vascular dementia. Dementia is a cruel and slow debilitating disease of the brain which slowly disrupts the mental capabilities of the victim, severely diminishing mental processes with inter-related effects on the motor ability to move limbs and body. 
Over the last few years our family have watched my Dad slowly disappear before our eyes into a forgetful, sometimes fidgety individual …. a mere shadow of his previous outgoing self.  There were encouraging moments however when that previous spark would suddenly appear out from the haze of the dementia and during family conversations my Dad would reply with his characteristic snappy and humorous one-liners that were so familiar.  
In UK alone statistics state that there are some 800,000 people with dementia, 2/3 of them women. There is no cure. There is no current viable early monitoring system to detect the onset of this disease. What these statistics do not reflect however is the strain and pressure that dementia patients can place on their close family and carers over many years. During this time as the disease courses through the victim not only do you lose that close connection you had with your loved one but you also have to care for their every physical need as well as coping with all the mental anguishes.  
My Dad was a simple family man. He provided a safe and happy home environment for my brother Alan and I as we grew up. He introduced us to many simple pleasures such as the joy of travel. In those early days this meant a two week holiday in Scotland. In those pre-internet days he spent a huge effort over the long winter months in planning the family holiday. Unknown to many people he was the master of MCP … Meticulous Car Packing …. This process involved packing the entire contents of our house into a small car for the two week vacation in the hills of North West Scotland leaving just enough room for us to squeeze in – breathing was an optional extra.  
His love of motoring brought a variety of classic cars to our family from the early days of the nostalgic Ford Popular, through a memorable bright yellow Ford Anglia and not forgetting the classic Russian Lada which he was one the early adopters in UK.  
Later in life my Dad had the opportunity to travel more extensively and he revelled in the challenge of experiencing new cultures and particularly in sampling exotic foods and foreign beverages.  
My Dad was always known for his sense of humour, which was probably developed very quickly after my brother and I appeared on the scene. His quick witted and sometimes corny one-liners will be missed although it has already been noted that I’m quickly filling that void.  
One of my Dad’s passions was photography which seems to have been passed to me whether genetically or otherwise. It was interesting to see some photographs my Dad took with a small compact camera only a few months ago and he still seemed to have the eye to capture a good image. Like a photograph that’s all we are left with now … images and memories we all have of my Dad. These memories of my Dad will remain with us in the coming days, the coming weeks and for years to come and it is these memories we must cherish for it is all these small memories that add up to an astonishing and full 78 and one half years of his life.  
We cannot talk about my Dad without talking about my Mum. Throughout the last few years as my Dad slowly failed my Mum ceaselessly took care of Dad and we must recognise and acknowledge her efforts in this respect.  
So it is time now to say the final goodbye to my Dad, husband to my Mum Doreen, Grandfather to Chris and Neil and Great Grandfather to Catriona and Emily. It is a sad loss and will leave a large void in all our lives but we must take this opportunity to celebrate his time with us and remember all those wonderful moments of his incredible life.  
There is an old saying “You’re not a man till you have buried your father” ………. I stand here now as a man wishing I was still a boy.

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