22 February 2017 (Wednesday) - A Funeral

We buried my father-in-law today.

I first met Frank some time in 1982 in the bar of the Regent hotel in St Leonards. I’d just started going out with "er indoors TM" and it was time to meet her (step) father. I’d been told his Irish accent was rather thick. He seemed friendly enough; he bought me a pint, I am reliably informed that he was cheeky about my coat (I wore a very distinctive coat at the time), but I didn’t understand a single word he said at the time. I smiled politely; hoping for a translation.
That really set the scene for the next thirty-five years. I always got on well with him; but never understood a word he said.

Over the years the fruits of my loin would go and stay with him. They both loved him. They would help him in the kitchens of the various bed-and-breakfasts he ran. On one of the occasions I understood him he was shouting “oh sweet Jesus” as the toast under the grill had caught fire.
On another occasion he got an allotment. Not to grow anything but so various grandchildren could play (under his strict supervision) with a petrol-powered rotavator he’d acquired. In later years he had a mobility scooter which I never saw him use. I’m told he went to the park in it, but I am sure that this too was a toy for the younger members of the family.

As time pushed on so Frank’s health deteriorated. He recovered from cancer of the throat a few years ago, but that was but one of his problems. Last Christmas he jokingly showed us a list of all his conditions. After a recent bout in hospital he’d asked one of the doctors to write him a list of what was wrong with him; it filled an A4 sheet of paper.

Today was the funeral. There was a minor disaster as the road outside his house had been closed for resurfacing, but the contractors stopped work to allow us in and for the funeral procession to leave. We made our way to the Catholic church in the Old Town, and the priest gave a very good service. Frank had been a churchgoer there, and the church had looked after him in his last days.
From there we relocated to Hastings cemetery for the burial. Again the priest gave a good service at the graveside. Short and sweet, which was what was called for on a cold windswept afternoon.
From the cemetery we moved to Hasting sea front for the wake in the sea angling society’s social club. The wake went as well as a wake can go.

I was rather relieved to get home. Today had been rather tiring…

No comments:

Post a Comment