My Father-in-law passed away this week at the age of 93. He was a lovely man and I will miss him. He had a warm and charming manner and was a true English gentleman in his Harris tweeds and cap. At 93 he survived and served in World War 11 and would often regale us with his stories about the war. I would listen to these stories with rapt interest until, like my husband, I could just about tell them for him. He did tend to review and live in the past with increasing frequency, in the past several years, as his memory became more fragile and eventually faded entirely.
In many ways, his passing was a blessing for him; I can't imagine that he would have wanted to continue with his health failing at every turn. The final straw was a broken hip that happened two weeks ago. The subsequent surgery left him weak, vulnerable and open to the chest infection that appears to have taken him away.
The loss of any close member of a family is difficult, no matter what the person's age or state of health. There is a 'life force' that we all bring that will be missed when we are gone. Strangely, we don't really get to understand what the essence of a person is until it isn't present on the planet.
It is easy to take our families for granted and assume they will be there forever. For my husband, having a Father in his life for all of his 65 years is pretty amazing. He is already an Old Age Pensioner and has never known a time in his life when his father wasn't there.
One of the most difficult parts of loss is the conflict of emotions that emerge; grief and sadness mixed with feelings of relief that the tension and wonder is finally over.
Family relationships are complicated and made more so when the parents are gone. Most siblings don't know how to be with each other without the parents as a point of reference point. The uncertainty, the vacuum and the unknown are what we face over the next few weeks as we travel back to England to complete this journey.
While it may be the end of an era; it is also a new beginning that we can shape as we like.