Hazel’s Dad Arthur had had an apparent stroke early in the last week of February. Hazel and her brother Phil persuaded him to go into hospital for tests. On the Tuesday the transport failed to arrive to take him in, so he missed his appointment and rescheduled it for Friday.
When Friday came, he was duly taken in for tests as planned, and was returned to his home late in the afternoon. He was too tired and weak to get up the stairs, and his neighbours settled him into his arm chair for the night. In the morning (Saturday) they called in and found him lying on the floor in the lounge where he had fallen.
Our daughter Amanda happened to be in Southampton and went with him to the hospital in an ambulance, staying with him most of the day. X-rays indicated no broken bones, but he was kept in for observation. We planned to go and visit him the following day (Sunday) after church.
On Sunday morning at about 4.30am he showed signs of deterioration, and the doctors phoned Amanda first and then ourselves at about 5am. We left Aylesbury at 5.30am and were in the hospital in Southampton at 7.15am. He had passed away at about 6.45am, peacefully, with Amanda holding his hand.
Although it has been a sad occasion there are several things for which we give thanks.
1 For his neighbours, Julie and Brian, who for several years have helped him by mowing his lawn, doing his shopping, and calling in daily to see if he was OK. Without them, we would not have felt so free to travel like we do on the canal system.
2 For Amanda and the fact that she was in Southampton, and that it was Saturday and Sunday when she was needed, which did not clash with work commitments. (She was in York earlier in the week).
3 For the timing. In three weeks time we would have been travelling up the Grand Union Canal, having left our car in storage for the summer. A few weeks later we are involved in missions in Derbyshire and Staffordshire. As it was, we could leave our boat safely on the mooring in Aylesbury, and drive to Southampton to do all the necessary work clearing up his effects and returning the property to the council. James is one of the executors.
4 Similarly in a few weeks time Phil and Cyndi would have been busy with receiving guests at their gites in France.
5 He never wanted to go into a nursing home or have a long illness and he was spared both those things.
On Sunday afternoon we returned to Aylesbury, packed a few things, and told a few people. On Monday we loaded things into the car, including Hugo, our cat, who hates travelling in the car, and went down to Southampton.
We did the rounds of medical reports from the hospital, appointments with funeral directors, banks, council housing department, registrars, house clearance people etc etc. Anyone who has had to do this will know what it is like.
When Phil and Cyndi moved to France, Arthur had asked James to be an executor, and everyone thought that was the case. However, Arthur had not re-made his will to say so, and Phil and Cyndi were still the named executors. Certain things therefore had to wait until Phil came over from France.
Thankfully everything was sorted out and the funeral was arranged for Thursday 12th March. The house clearance was also arranged for the next day.
On the middle Saturday Hazel and I decided to have a break and we went by ferry to the Isle of Wight and visited Osborne House. Beautiful spring weather and a very relaxing day. Queen Victoria’s private beach was a special place. We also had a good view of P & O cruise liner Oceana plus the new Britannia, which was in port awaiting a naming ceremony by the Queen before the maiden voyage.
At Osborne House
The closest we got to a red squirrel
The beach at Osborne House
On the Sunday we visited City Life Church. They are linked to Pioneer and they knew John and Christine Noble. They meet in what used to be the Methodist Church in Bassett where Hazel was a member of the Girls Life Brigade in her youth.
Phil arrived from France on the Monday, and we had another visit to the bank, where they were able to close the account and transfer the funds to Phil. Thankfully the affairs were very straightforward.
By the end of Tuesday we felt we had done all we could in the house, so we returned to Aylesbury with Hugo for two nights on the boat. On Wednesday we seemed to sleep most of the time.
On Thursday we drove down to Southampton once more for the funeral, where 19 people assembled to say their farewells, including two of Arthur’s first cousins whom we had never met. They had seen it in the local paper.
We had a finger buffet lunch at the Ox in North Baddisley, followed by a return to the house in Dunkirk Road where most people found an item or two to have as a keepsake. We handed the keys to Owen, the chap who was to clear the house.
Hazel and I had booked two nights at the Premier Inn on West Quay, and we went with Phil to a tapas restaurant, where we ordered too many dishes and couldn’t finish the meal. The following morning we couldn’t do justice to the eat-as-much-as-you-like excellent buffet breakfast.
Back at the house Owen was in full swing, breaking up the furniture he couldn’t re-use, which upset our daughter Amanda. Phil left for France, leaving us to settle up with Owen later on. We had lunch with Amanda, and returned at 4pm as agreed with Owen. He was not there and the job was nowhere near finished, so we had to call him. We explained once again that we were going back to Aylesbury and we needed to hand in the keys to the council. He said he would call us when it was finished.
After a memory lane tour of Bassett and a pub meal, we returned to the Premier Inn to watch Comic Relief and have an early night.
We had a phone call at 8am from Owen to say the job was finished, so we got up, had another excellent breakfast and met him at the house. Apparently he had been working until 1am, disturbing the neighbours in the process. We paid him his money, collected the keys and delivered them to the housing department in Shirley, before taking a scenic route back to Aylesbury, without going on any fast roads or motorways.
This is the end of an era. With the passing of Arthur, we have become the older generation.
One of his favourite pictures – a Halifax bomber
A mossy detail from the garden
In a week’s time we set off on our summer cruising programme, so the timing has been perfect. Lots of primroses and daffodils are now out, as well as some early blackthorn. We have seen rooks on nests in the trees. Spring is here.