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!

Pads Brat Life

42 signs you were a Pads Brat … fellow Brats leave the number of the one which made you smile the most. 😃

1. People ask you where you’re from and you don’t even try to explain as your not entirely sure!
2. Your Doctor, Dentist and Chaplain wore combat boots.
3. You’ve taken a few flights that involved sitting in jump seats, wearing your winter jacket the entire flight and taken off and landing at military airports.
4. You’ve eaten more than one really posh Christmas meal in the “mess” and been told to be on your best behaviour to then watch the adults get hopelessly drunk and misbehave.
5. You always have emergency ration packs around the house and can make a meal out of anything tinned.
6. You’ve never had to explain to your Military friends that you just found out you’re moving … again!
7. You’re the most efficient packer you know and actually enjoy it.
8. You’ve known from a young age Life is not always easy or fair but your job is to make the most of it and smile regardless.
9. You are tough, adaptable and good at making friends.
10. You wouldn’t trade your childhood and upbringing for anything in the world.
11. You know you shouldn’t but you judge people who don’t know the phonetic alphabet.
12. Turning up 10 minutes early for an appointment means you’re late.
13. You were soooo proud you had a British military ID.
14. Anyone older than you is Sir or Ma’am, “No exceptions.”
15. Your chores were mandatory and were always inspected military style.
16. You are born with a immediate respect for anyone in uniform.
17. Santa always turned up in a military helicopter to the Mess and wore combat boots and DPM trousers underneath his red jacket.
18. You were never alone, and even when you were, you were always pretty content and happy.
19. You’ve stood for the National Anthem in a cinema.
20. You have an instant connection with other brats no matter what sex or age.
21. You have friends all over the world.
22. You can “go with the flow” better than your civilian counterpart, even if you’re not comfy, you always fit in and hold yourself well in any group.
23. No one or nothing was more scary than your father’s commanding officer.
24. You’ve not got the toys you grew up with and can’t remember where they went.
25. You never ever questioned your lifestyle, things were just as they were and it was accepted, now you look back in affectionate amazement.
26. You know it’s really 17:00 not 5pm.
27. You get excited when you meet someone who has been to the same base or country as you and have an instant bond and shed loads to talk about.
28. Going back to your own country was a complete cultural shock.
29. You never thought it was weird that you grew up inside a armed guarded cage, you just knew you were safe.
30. Your only source of communication with your Dad when he was away were “blueys”.
31. In school, you had fire drills but you also had nuclear war drill and prepared for terrorist attacks.
32. You put German curry sauce on everything and love trying new foods and flavours.
33. You feel somewhat sorry for civilian children and feel like they have missed out.
34. Having the amount of different schools attended as you did is a kind of badge of honour but you cant remember more than two teachers names, what school they taught you in or what year!
35. You’ve worn military green thermal socks that doubled up every Christmas as your Christmas stocking.
36. You’ve looked under your car for bombs or devices, also had your school bus searched twice a day by armed soldiers considered normal.
37. You never bothered to memorize your home telephone number, it changed too frequently.
38. You refer to non-school clothes as “civvies.”
39. It wasn’t alarming or nothing new to see guys jump out of airplanes or dangle from speeding helicopters.
40. You can’t keep track of how many houses you’ve lived in but can remember the view from your bedroom windows.
41. You are probably one of a few people that have actually fully read this whole post and liked and shared it.
42. You can’t stop finding reasons why being a Military brat is great.

Have a padded day, won’t you!

The West Brits?

I’m sure this piece from the Belfast Telegraph will have you either shouting in fuuuuuuuuuuuurious anger or smirking with amusement.

I’m just waiting for Varadkar asking London if Eire can become part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland again.  Doubtless he will ride into Downing Street on Shergar with Elvis Presley providing the welcoming music.

Oh, and happy birthday to Gerry Adams, who happens to share the same birthday (today) as me.  I’m sure his birthday cake is not the only thing he’s ever been responsible for blowing up/out…

soft-iced-happy-birthday-cake-2000117_4

Have a united day, won’t you!

Cemetery Visit

I was born on dd/mm/yyyy in a British military hospital in Germany.  I am a pads brat, and proud of the fact.

The army wife giving birth before my mother died during childbirth.  I did not know that fact until ten years ago, when I was living near Oxford and planning a visit to Germany.  My dad asked me to do him a big favour and visit the grave of the mother in question, which, some months later I did.  It was a gloriously sunny day.  The Rheindahlen Military Cemetery, where she was buried, was billiard-table green and very peacefully quiet.

Two thoughts occurred to me as I stood at the lady’s grave.  Her name is Margaret.

  1. When had anyone last been to see her grave?
  2. The Angel of Death could have taken me, but chose to take Margaret instead.  Even on my darkest days, I have reminded myself of that fact.  There has to be a reason why I was allowed to live.

On Facebook among the anti-Trump, “what I am having for lunch” and cute animal photos, I recently saw some posts from two army wives regarding the Rheindahlen Military Cemetery.  Tragically, these two ladies had lost babies in the same hospital where I was born.  After making enquiries of various contacts that I know, I am intending to visit the cemetery in the next few days to visit the graves of the babies buried there, as well as to take photos and video footage to share with the mothers of these babies.  As a single man with no offspring, I can only imagine the pain these mothers will have gone through, when the Army and society in general were much more “stiff upper lip” than nowadays.  Since those first two army wives messaged me, I have received two or three other requests to visit other babies’ graves.

It is my humble duty and privilege to be living close enough to the cemetery for me to pay a visit.  Door to door: about 90 minutes.  I feel it is the least I can do for my fellow pads brats and families, to pay my respects and say a prayer by their babies’ graves.

Finally…  Some years ago, I remember a story about an army wife wanting to have her daughter’s remains repatriated some years after her burial back to England, where her parents were now living.  In preparation for the planned move, the mother came over to the grave at Rheindahlen Military Cemetery.  Standing by her daughter’s grave situated among the dozens of other babies’ graves, she told her husband:

No.  Let’s leave her here, so she can carry on playing with all her friends here.  They’d miss her terribly.

 

cemetery

Have a peaceful day, won’t you!

Blood sugar diet: day 10 of 56

Today was a checkpoint day.  Nothing to do with the diet per se.  On day 1 of the diet I had my quarterly blood sugar sample taken.  Today I came back to see my GP to get the results.

  • Last reading: 7.1 units.
  • Today’s reading: 7.8 units.

An increase of 0.7 units, or 10, something I had anticipated as over the past few months, I had been overeating and less active than previous.  I won’t bore you with the reason.  (I should ideally be at 6.5 units.)

However, my GP had been briefed by his “civilian” staff (the army-speak never leaves you) that I had started the Low Blood Sugar Diet.  So, instead of slapping my wrist, our man was most positive about the diet, my efforts and results.  (He complimented me on my Redhead Days t-shirt which I was wearing.  Normally he wears a top with a witty slogan in English, eg “Cool story, bro.”  Today he did not, but I did.)

I digress.

Next steps…

  • No need to see him at the four-week point in the diet, unless I was constantly going hypoglaecemic and had lost a lot of weight.
  • Carry on, and don’t worry about all carbs, but do avoid the bad carbs, eg white bread, rice etc.

Fifteen minutes later, I left his surgery, and we shook hands.

Next weigh-in is in two days time.  Watch this space.

Have a healthy day, won’t you!

Close your curtains

The Dutch are said to be very Calvinistic.  At least, I guess, the Protestant Dutch are.   One sign of their Calvinistic nature is the fact that, allegedly, the Dutch don’t have curtains.  Yes, they even indulge in, cough cough, hum, hum, with the curtains open.  Personally, notwithstanding my Protestant faith in this 750th year of the Reformation, I prefer curtains.

Let me take you back to 1979.  Margaret Thatcher had been Prime Minister for a few months.  In those days TV often finished most evenings at just before midnight.  Saturday late evening TV consisted of:

  • Match of the Day (for the football)
  • Parkinson chat show
  • The Rockford Files (with Jim Garner)
  • Finally: the national anthem and a long “booooooooooooooooooooooooop”

Saturday evening, approximately 23:20 BST.  Victor and his two sons, aged 9 and 10, had hitch-hiked all the way from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, all up the motorway, courtesy of several truck drivers, needing to rant to somebody about their divorces, the price of petrol, etc, etc, and a football sales rep.  The final stretch from Leeming Bar Motel on the A1, to the Yorkshire hamlet of Burrill, was, however, done by taxi.

Father and sons arrived in the hamlet.  A short O-group (Army-speak for planning meeting).  Time for Army black warped sense of humour to show its face.  From the OP (observation post), near the hamlet church, Sergeant Victor (veteran of Northern Ireland) and sons notice that the living room curtains are open.   Grandma and aunt are watching The Rockford Files.

Three males tiptoe forward, using Victor’s military skills, to see without being seen, to hear without being heard.

Three males crouch down below the window sill.

On three…  one… two… three!

Three heads slowly rise above the window sill.

Two backsides leap out of their armchairs.

Three males roar with laughter.

Two female relatives feel their heart rates jumping.

Seconds later, three male relatives enter via the front door, ready for a nice pot of tea, pork pie each, sliced in two, with a dollop of Branston chutney on a small plate.

Have a Calvinistic day, won’t you!