Ten years on

Gareth, Keith and Rosalie
Me with my Mum and Dad, in 1997 (I think)

Today is the 10th anniversary of the death of my father, Keith John Saunders. He died at 23:50 on Sunday 04 January 1998.

I can hardly believe that it’s been so long. Ten years.

Here’s something I wrote shortly after he died:

Where did he go? My faith says heaven – or the new earth – or something Biblical; he’s gone to be with God.

But where did he go? One moment he was with us, moving, breathing, loving and the next minute he’d gone.

His breathing had been slowing, and slowing and slowing until with a few final, shallow breaths he stopped.

And escaped.

As though his soul had found an opening in his frail frame and was let free; like the air in a balloon slowly being let out.

How I wanted to find it and stuff it back in; recharge his batteries and get him working again.

But, in the quiet night, with each other we were left alone. Alone with his body. His empty shell, which we loved as much as the man who used it. We were left with the refuse: a body which had failed him and which he needed no longer.

But it looked like him, there was no difference, but there was.

I took his hand. It was still warm. His watch was still ticking and I resented that. I wanted it to stop. I wanted it to show me that he was dead. It was a part of him and it should have stopped when he stopped. How dare it continue to count the hours and minutes for him when he had no more to count?

It’s been ten years now. My eyes still well up from time to time when I remember him, my Dad. I still miss him. Even though he was desperately ill, 15 years with brain damage following three sub-arachnoid brain haemorrhages in 1983, I still miss him. Because he was my Dad and I loved him.

I got this text from my sister Jenni today:

We just made the funniest snowman on Dad’s grave … with holly berry eyes and grass hair and moustache! X

If he was still alive today, he’d have liked that. He’d have laughed at that.

Except for the bit about it being his grave. Cos I imagine that if he was still alive he’d probably not want to be buried!

Update

The Southern Reporter have printed this in memoriam announcement:

Keith Saunders : Memorial
SAUNDERS Keith, 12/02/45 to 04/01/98. Ten years on but not forgotten. “neither death, nor life… will be able to seperate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39. – Rosalie, Gareth and Jane, Jenni, Eddie and Rebecca, Benjamin and Owen.

You would think that for £70+ they could at least have spelled “separate” correctly.

The day WW3 nearly kicked off

Military radio operators in a red room

Back in November 1983 I was looking forward to my 12th birthday.

It was a strange year, that was the year that Dad was hit with three brain haemorrhages, in early March, one after the other all within a week or two: bang! bang! … bang!

In August 1983 I’d begun High School. By November life had settled down a little, at least in my inner life. Meanwhile, in the wider world the relationships between the NATO and the USSR weren’t quite so peachy.

It turns out that when NATO called for a military exercise (codenamed Able Archer), shortly after US President Raygun (sic) announced the Star Wars initiative, Russia read this as an indication that World War Three was about to begin. On 8 November 1983, the Russian finger hovered over the button, the nuclear button.

I remember the fear I had when the Chernobyl nuclear power station melted. I’m really glad that I knew nothing of this at the time. I’m even more thankful that sense prevailed and the button was never pressed.

Check out the documentary The Brink of Apocalypse on Channel 4, Saturday 05 January at 19:30.

Anthrax – Caught in a Mosh

Anthrax - Caught in a Mosh

Spotted on the HMV website: thrash metal giants Anthrax have  a new live album coming out next week (Monday 7 January 2008): Caught in a Mosh, subtitled “BBC Live in Concert”. Track-listing is as follows:

Disc 1

Live at Hammersmith Odeon, London, 15 February 1987

  1. A.I.R.
  2. Metal Thrashing Mad
  3. Panic
  4. Enemy
  5. I Am The Law
  6. Madhouse
  7. Howling Furies
  8. Medusa
  9. Armed And Dangerous
  10. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
  11. God Save The Queen
  12. Gung Ho

Disc 2

Live at Monsters of Rock (Castle Donington) Festival, England, 22 August 1987

  1. Among The Living
  2. Caught In A Mosh
  3. Madhouse
  4. I Am The Law
  5. Medusa
  6. Indians
  7. God Save The Queen
  8. A.I.R.
  9. I’m The Man

Other Anthrax news is that they’ve announced their new singer: Dan Nelson, a relatively unknown singer from New York. Read the press release.