Friday, January 25, 2013

Vale William Ellis 1920 - 2013

If I've been a bit quiet lately that's what dealing with everything involved in having a terminally ill family member in hospital and their subsequent death can do to you. It has been hard - and was made more difficult with some of my own health issues flaring so I wasn't able to drive and had to rely on others.

The last straw was that I lost my voice about three weeks before Dad died so I was trying to talk to doctors and nurses in little more than a whisper. Although I managed to force it - with the aid of a microphone - enough to give my part of the eulogy, I put a lot of strain on it and I'm now starting my sixth week of laryngitis barely able to whisper. Makes phone conversations - and there is a lot of business associated with a death which means phone calls that have to be made and made by certain specific people - something of a challenge.

Then there's the clearing out of belongings, making decisions about what to keep and what not to and sorting out paper work. It all takes time and mental as well as physical energy. In his part of the eulogy, my brother laid out a task for all those at the funeral. "Whatever you do," he said, "take this message away. Make sure you declutter and keep your affairs in order so your sons and daughters are not left having to do it after you're gone."

This is very good advice. It's only 5 years since we helped Dad clear his house of twenty years of accumulated stuff when he moved into the unit. What he has acquired since then is amazing. He wasn't a hoarder with piles of stuff everywhere. He was just a normal person with a few hobbies but the volume is staggering. Because it needs sorting it's taken us several weeks to clear it, even with, for example, packing up boxes of papers - it turns out he had a mass of information to do with the history of both sides of the family - to sort through later. Now though, there's only filling out the legal paper work and the executor takes over.

Dad did not see himself as special but in many ways he was, and I'm not saying that just because he was my father. He was not perfect but he was a kind and caring man, genuinely interested in people. Among those at Dad's funeral were many who had been helped by him and my mother and who came to show their respect and appreciation. He said to me recently that he had had a full and good life and was ready to go, although I have a sneaking suspicion he would have liked to have reached 93 which was only a few weeks away.

Rest in peace, Dad. You've earned the right.

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