Then we spent a few hours writing out the invitations, and calling and taking calls from people shocked at the news of our father's sudden demise. Because it had been quick, and unexpected. He hadn't been ill. He was woken up day before yesterday same as usual, washed and clothed, and then before he went in for breakfast complained of a slight tummy ache. The doctor on constant call in the home had a look at him and deciding that he was just a bit constipated, was in the middle of prescribing him something to ease his stool, when Dad made one final jovial remark...and slumped back on the bed. The doctor said he'd never seen anything like it: one minute, his patient was trading jokes with him, the next, gone into the next world.
I'm glad it happened like this, both for his sake as for mine - it means there's nothing I could have done, even if I had gotten the news immediately. Because I'd allowed my niece to change my ringtone, I didn't realise it had been my phone ringing in my purse all day, and therefore only noticed I'd missed 8 calls when I took it out in the evening...
Before we left the funeral parlour, my sister insisted I see my father. Up until that moment, I hadn't shed a tear (or maybe just one). But she was right, seeing him opened the floodgates, and we stood there, clutching at each other bawling our eyes out. Then she left me alone with him to say a final farewell, and that was hard. Strangely, he looked better than I'd seen him in weeks, very peaceful and still. But he was so cold, my fingers froze when I touched his cheek the way I'd always done to wake him up whenever I found him asleep, and it was then that I realised, he really was gone. When I got home a few hours later, I was so blinded with tears I stumbled and fell on the stairs. I put my left hand out to break my fall, and I think I must have sprained my wrist, because this morning it's swollen and hurts like a mother. If it's not better in a day or two, I'll have my GP have a look at it.
When the home couldn't get in touch with me, they called my mother, who after having given up on trying to reach me, notified my sister. She came down and arranged for him to be taken away, because the house rules stipulate that a dead body has to be removed from the premises immediately. Likewise, his few belongings will have to be removed within 3 days of the death occuring as well, so I'm going down there after posting this, or they'll be destroyed. We don't know if there's anything we want to keep, but we don't like the idea of his stuff ending up in the skip so soon after his death. After that, it's off to the florist's to order a wreath, and to the photographer's to have our favourite picture of him enlarged to poster size, to set up in the crematorium for use in the service. Then all we need to do is make the final arrangements for the valedictory dinner, and for each of us to write our speeches. The wake, or viewing of the body, has been arranged for Monday evening.