Beware the Ides of March

My dad (right) with his colleague David Brown on the set of the 1982–1983 IEE Faraday Lecture

“Beware the Ides of March!” So, Shakespeare’s soothsayer warns Julius Caesar in his play. It is a phrase now etched into the history of my family.

Today marks the 39th anniversary of my late father, Keith John Saunders, collapsing with what turned out to be the first of three brain haemorrages, on Tuesday 15 March 1983.

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Gravestone

Photo: Andrew Bunyan, engraver

Mum’s name has now been added to the gravestone, along with an introduction, “In loving memory of…”

We also added some context to the years, although without the ’19…’ I doubt that people would have thought that Dad was a time-traveller born in 1845 who married a woman in the following century, but it immediately clarifies things.

I like the Scottish tradition of using the wife’s maiden name.

In a way, it feels good to see them together again after so many years without Dad.

Rest in peace, Mum and Dad x

Beware the Ides of March

My dad, through the years until shortly after his illness in 1983

Last week, I realised that it was exactly 38 years since my father had his first of three subarachnoid brain haemorrhages. He was 38 years old.

This has been the first anniversary of Dad’s first haemorrhage without Mum which is maybe why I’m writing about it now. I’ve also been scanning a lot of photos from my Mum’s collection which is helping piece together some of the puzzle.

The soothsayer in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar warned the Roman emperor about the 15th of March, “Beware the Ides of March”. It’s a phrase that took on a very real meaning for our family.

On Tuesday 15 March 1983, my father Keith Saunders was in his birthplace of Nottingham to deliver the 1982/83 IEE Faraday lecture The Photon Connection about how fibre optics (light) would revolutionise communications. Shortly after he had stepped off the stage in Nottingham (I think it was at the Royal Concert Hall) he was giving an interview to the BBC about the lecture tour when he suddenly felt very ill. He turned, vomited and collapsed onto the floor. (I’ve often thought, somewhere, at some point, the BBC had footage of my dad vomiting!)

It had begun as an ordinary Tuesday in March but one that changed all of our lives forever.

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Buffalo! Bison!

Musk oxen on Windows 10 lock screen

Yesterday, my Windows 10 lock screen started to show this image of musk oxen, native to the Arctic.

Because they look a bit like bison, it reminded me of when I was younger, getting ready for school and saying bye to my dad as he left the house for his 20-minute walk to Exacta Circuits in Selkirk.

Every morning, when he put on his coat, I’d step out of my bedroom, which was next to the front door, and as he opened the front door to leave I would say, “Buffalo!”

And Dad would turn to me and reply, with a big grin, “Bison!”


In related news, did you know that “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” is a perfectly valid sentence in English?

It means, “Buffalo bison that other Buffalo bison bully also bully Buffalo bison.”

Postcard

Photo: Autumn Glory by Jonathan Leach

A couple of months ago, my lovely sister Jenni sent me this postcard on my first birthday without my Mum. She found it in a box of postcards that my Mum kept and would send people as a blessing.

It reads:

May God walk ahead of you
and guide your path
May God walk beside you
and keep you company.
May God walk behind you
and protect you from harm.
May God surround you
on all sides with his love.

I have needed to remember this over the last six months or more.

I hope that it blesses you too.