Today marks exactly 26 years since my father, Keith J Saunders, died. I still miss him every day. What I would give to have one last hug from him.
Dad died from kidney failure aged 52 years, 10 months and 23 days . I reach the exact same age as him this autumn. That has been a sobering thought as I approached my 52nd birthday in November.
Today my thought, however, have been on the happy moments that we had together. Those ordinary every day interactions and conversations, before the dementia started stripping away large chunks of what made him who he was.
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.
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.