I am honestly surprised I haven’t blogged about this before.
Death is something that comes to us all eventually, and is something we can be exposed to from an early age. Sometimes we get the news in a phone call or email, sometimes we’re in the hospital as a loved one passes after a short (or long) illness.
In-your-hands dying is rare.
My dad had his first heart attack in 1973, when he was 38. Bear in mind that he was a smoker and had had a bit of a tough childhood, what with nearly being burned alive by the Japanese during the Second World War (a story for another time) so it perhaps wasn’t as unexpected as all that. He was put on lighter duties at work – employers used to do things like that in those days – but then the recession hit in the late 1970s and Crabtree Vickers closed down. He managed to get a job at Hindle Valves just up the road (ish) but had to work a bit harder.
One day – Monday 15 March 1982 – he came home feeling unwell, ate his tea and went to lie down. At around 10.30pm he collapsed. I went straight to the telephone to dial 999, then ran upstairs to help my mum.
We alternated between chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth, the ambulance arrived, they tried to revive him as well but in the end there was nothing they could do either. Sometimes, your best isn’t good enough. Not the way I wanted to learn that lesson.
Mum was 42; they would have celebrated 20 years of marriage that year. My brother was eight, my sister 13. I was five days short of my 15th birthday. And yes, it has affected us all in different ways over the years – one or two of you reading this will know me well enough to know how it affected me, and how it still sometimes does.
But there is honestly no-one I hate enough to wish those fifteen minutes of my life upon.