Sunray – Dead and (not yet) buried

Sunray – Dad – died suddenly, albeit not unanticipated, on 16 January.

  • Am I mourning?  No.
  • Has it sunk in?  Not sure?
  • Am I still relieved that he died and did so quickly, rather than painfully and unsteadily like people dying prematurely of cancer, etc?  Yes.

Sunray was a man who made a lot of mistakes in his life.  (Admittedly, who hasn’t?)  In his twilight years on particular, he had fallen out with pretty much all his siblings and two of his three children, something he had done for years and decades.

Since his death: what has happened?  Everything I had expected.

None of his siblings would organise or pay for his funeral.  Nor would his offspring.  It’s your funeral, as they say.  I could have, but I am more concerned with his soul than his body. I can only pray for God to show huge mercy on his soul.

Instead he gets a public health (pauper’s) funeral next Tuesday morning.  Not even a proper funeral.  Not even a service.  Nobody in the end would turn up.  (Maybe his former Squadron Sergeant-Major out of a sense of duty and loyalty to his men.)  Nobody would meet the local vicar to prepare a eulogy.  Instead the hearse will pull up at the grave.  The pall bearers will lower his coffin into the grave.  They may their heads to him.  They may even say a short prayer.  The wreaths from his old comrades will be placed on his grave.  That’ll be it.

I will mark his life and death with friends here in Germany with an informal, structured, mini-service.

  1. To thank God for his life.
  2. To thank God for his death.
  3. To beg God for mercy for Dad.
  4. To beg God for love and forgiveness of all our sins.

When I next head home, I will stand by his grave and say a prayer for him and his soul.  That’ll be more meaningful for me than a funeral service where kind words are said but not really meant.

Have a merciful day, won’t you!

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Sunray Down

Sunray is down.  Sunray passed away died one week ago.  Sunray is was my Dad.

How do I feel about his passing away death?

  • 80% relieved
  • 10% “It hasn’t really sunk in yet”
  • 10%… well, I’m not sure

Thankfully when death came, it came quickly.  Heart attack on the way back from the shops.  I had feared bluebottles at the window, police having to smash down his front door and find his lifeless body on the sofa.  I am grateful that when the end came, it came relatively swiftly.

For the last three to four years Sunray had not been enjoying life.

  • Riddled with arthritis
  • Out of control diabetes
  • Personality disorder
  • Depression
  • A sad, lonely, unwashed, embittered old man, his only company – a bottle of whisky and twenty Benson & Hedges cigarettes
  • Estranged from almost all his family
  • At best, tolerated by the rest of his family

A very pitiable end of life.

Will I go to his funeral?  No.  Will there even be a funeral service?  No.  Sunray had fallen out with his family so badly over the years, that nobody was prepared to organise or pay for his funeral.  Maybe his ex-Squadron Sergeant-Major from Army days would have come.  But nobody else.

Despite his faults I did love and care for him.   Agape love.  My last contact with him had been a phone call four days before his death, a very jovial call.  Was he on the way up?

I will visit his grave later in the year, say a prayer over his grave.  That is more meaningful to me and to him than a Theaterstück of a funeral service, where kind words and cliches are said to an almost empty room.  I’m not bothered about seeing his body one last time.  I am more concerned about his soul.

Heavenly Father, I beg You, have mercy on Dad’s soul.  Amen.

Have a merciful day, won’t you!

The Fifth Commandment: Part 1

The Bible commands in Exodus 20:12:

Honour your father and your mother.

And truly I tell you, it’s a good commandment.

That’s the Biblical quotatation for you.  From theology to humour.  Now for an old East Germany joke…

A school teacher asks little Fritz:

“Fritzchen, why are you always speaking of our Soviet brothers? It’s Soviet friends.”

Fritz replies:

“Well, you can always choose your friends.  You can’t choose your family.”

Many a true word said in jest, Fritz.

This been a somewhat frustrating weekend for me.  Philip Larkin was spot-on when he wrote This Be Verse(I leave you to read the poem in your own time.  It does have a small typo.  I think the second word in the poem should begin with an “m,” not an “f.”)

My Dad, “Sunray,” is a “problem child.”  Lonely, with few friends, alienated from most of his family, with an alcohol dependency a “grumpy old man” personality.  Not exactly the most attractive thing to write in his online dating profile, but hey, ho, there you go.

Because Sunray has a low boredom threshold.  He tends to phone me every two or three times a day on Saturdays, sometimes even more than that, reaching double-figures.  The same again on Sundays, even though he knows I am out at church most of the day on Sunday.  This being even though I phone him from work three times a week and end up having long chats with him, so he can tell me his “When I was in [insert name of garrison town]…” war stories again and again.  And again.

And again.

And Again…

This Saturday I relented and called him back to keep him quiet.

Another anecdote about Fallingbostel 1965, which I’d heard only about…. ooooh… some fifteen times this year…

Three minutes into the call Sunray declares:

Anyway, I don’t want to chat any more.  Bye.

Two hours, three hours, four hours later, more phone calls from him.  That was the pattern on Friday.  This time, on Saturday, I ignore the calls, probably much to his chagrin.

As Schatz was here, I decide to pull out my landline cable to get some peace and quiet.  Later in the evening I re-connect the landline.  More phone calls from him, not leaving a message.  Then at about 20:00 the calls stop.  He’s probably drunk his quota of rose wine and climbed into bed for the night, muttering his mantra, “Every single f*cker’s been f*ckin’ me about.  Sick and tired of it.  People f*ckin’ me about…”

Enough about Sunray.

Have an honourable day, won’t you!

Sorry seems to be the hardest word?

So, a week after I’d told Deckname “Alan,” a friend from church, that I was feeling very down due to a variety of reasons, including SAD and other factors.  Since then plenty of WhatsApp messages from him about how he’s been travelling around the English West Country, seeing lots of nice places.

Nice.  Very nice.

Bedtime in Germany last night.  Radio Four on.  The World Tonight.  Kindle and mobile my bedmates for the night.

I take my mobile.

WhatsApp time.

G in G: Alan, remember I told you a week ago that I was feeling very down?

Alan: Yes, Ginge in Germany, I do.

G in G: Alan, have you asked me since then how I am?

Alan: I don’t think so.

G in G: (Thumbs-up symbol)  Good night.  I wish you good dreams.

Fast forward to this morning.

Alan: I will be early to apologise and say sorry now that you have felt neglect.

Better late than never.  Hopefully a lesson learnt.  Caring about your friends should not always be a one-way street.

Have a contrite day, won’t you!

Let there be light!

Let there be light!  Let there be a light box!  ‘Tis the season of the year.  Not just Diwali, Hallowe’en, clocks going back, etc.  SAD time is here – for some of us.

What is SAD?  Seasonal affective disorder.  I get it.  When I describe the symptoms to women, they generally summarise it thus:

It’s just like being hormonal.

With me it normally kicks in during late October.  That’s when I switch my light box on.  Give it up to a week, and I’m back to my usual crude, lewd and rude joke-telling self.

Have a light day, won’t you!

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The title is a Latin phrase found in the work of the Roman poet Juvenal from his Satires (Satire VI, lines 347–8). It is literally translated as “Who will guard the guards themselves?”

The question in my head at the moment is:

Who cares for the carers?

Sometimes, and I’ll be frank here, I think the answer is: no-one?  I’m a member of my local church council.  I find it rewarding, and I like to serve man and God by doing all this work, whether sorting the church website or hoovering church carpets when the cleaner is on holiday, or spending hours sitting with fellow members of the congregation, listening to them telling me their problems when they are feeling down.

Yet what happens when the “care bear” and the church leader needs a listening ear?  Where are the friends who were there when they were feeling down?

They are either:

  • Not there at al: radio silence
  • They are telling you about what a great time they are having on on their hols
  • Moaning about their latest “playground fight” with a fellow member of congregation, followed by a huge long “mea culpa” session

This weekend got too much for me.  I ended up at Schatz’, lying on the bed and listening to good mood music such as Rule Britannia.  Finally, I decided to stick my shoes on and tell Schatz I was going out for a quick walk to the local bridge over the Autobahn and back to clear my head.  Maybe she thought I was planning to jump off the said bridge.  I wasn’t.  Suicide is Painless, goes the theme tune to M*A*SH.  But I wasn’t aiming to find out.  Instead Schatz suggested we head the local restaurant and have a few drinks.  We did that.  Five glasses of Hugo and a good rant about the Ted Stryker fan club later, and I was feeling better.  We duly waddled back to Schatz’ house, blood pressure somewhat lower than before.

Yamas!

Moral of this story:

  1. Support your local gunfighter.  Support your local church council member.
  2. No matter how down you are feeling, no better how cheery your friend is feeling, ask your friend once in a while how he/she is, especially when you have been told bluntly that said friend is feeling down.

Danke nochmal, Schatz, für deine Geduld!

Have a supportive day, won’t you!