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.

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 46 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Latterly, web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall. Currently on sabbatical. I am a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir.

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