My dad with me a few days after I was born in 1971

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.

I love you Dad!

Rosalie Jean Saunders (4 August 1939–6 August 2020)

Mum on her 81st birthday

On Thursday 6 August, two days after her 81st birthday my beautiful Mum, Rosalie Jean Saunders was found dead at home.

She had had an amazing birthday, she felt so blessed by people’s love and kindness. She had her hair dyed pink in celebration. Two days later, it appears that her heart gave out, but oh! what a heart she had.

The last two weeks have been a roller coaster of emotion. Most days when folks have asked me how I am, I’ve said that I’ve been like a typical day of Scottish weather: I’ve had a bit of everything.

Today, restricted by Covid-19 guidelines, a few family and friends gathered in the church grounds at St John the Evangelist, Selkirk (Mum’s spiritual home since 1974) and then in the Auld Kirk Yard to give thanks for the life of Mum and commit her to God’s keeping.

Mum was buried in a family grave, alongside my father.

My sister, brother and I worked collaboratively on her eulogy (below) using notes that she had left herself (thanks Mum, they were really helpful!). Mum left a lot of papers and writings and photographs which we will go through over the next few weeks, months, years and I’d like to compile them into a book to remember Mum by. But that is for another day.

Today we rejoiced for her life, her love, her faith in the God she adored.

Continue reading Rosalie Jean Saunders (4 August 1939–6 August 2020)

Spot (1999-2012)

Spot, the cat, stretched out sitting on a blanket

Yesterday afternoon, around 4:40 pm, I received a telephone call at work from Jane. She was crying. “Spot’s dead,” she said.

“What?! How?!”

Jane had gone out after lunch; the boys went to nursery, and Isaac went to his grannie’s while Jane went to play tennis. They all returned home just after 4:30 pm; they hadn’t been out for more than a few hours.

It was Joshua who found Spot, who was lying in the doorway between the kitchen and the utility room. He went to find mummy.

“Why is Spot lying on the floor?” he asked her.

He was already in rigor mortis so must have died shortly after Jane and the boys left the house. By the time I arrived home shortly after 5:10 pm Spot was getting cold. Jane had wrapped him in a white towel and moved him into the study.

Reuben told Jane that we needed to take him to the hospital and after the doctors had seen him he could “meow at me again”. She explained gently that Spot would never meow again and that we needed to bury him. Joshua then instructed Jane that we should bury him in his cat carrier.

“The cat carrier would be too big to bury with him, darling,” she told him.

It seems that Joshua wanted to make sure that Spot was kept safe. He seemed upset by the idea that he’d just be buried in a hole with nothing to protect him from the earth. Oddly, the idea of cremation didn’t seem to upset him too much.

We all went through to the study and knelt on the floor next to the body of poor wee Spot, stroked him, gave him cuddles and said our thank yous and goodbyes. He was a lovely cat, gentle and fun. He had been so good with Reuben, Joshua and Isaac; so tolerant of their rather enthusiastic cuddles, and only very occasionally swiping them with an open claw when his tail or fur was being pulled a little too much.

“Spot has died,” Reuben told me as we sat on the floor next to his body.

“Yes, he has,” I said.

“One day, later,” he said, “we need to bury him in MUD!”

“That’s right, darling.”

Over dinner—Jane’s dad had very kindly gone out for fish suppers for us all—we decided that he should be cremated. Our garden isn’t huge and there really wouldn’t be enough room to bury him as he was, cat carrier or not.

So Jane phoned the vet and about ten minutes later she and Reuben took Spot’s remains to the East Neuk Veterinary Centre in St Monans. Reuben gave him a cuddle and they returned home.

As I was putting Joshua to bed he lay with his head on the pillow, looking at me.

“I’m sad about Spot,” he said.

“Me too,” I said with tears rolling down my cheek.

“Why,” he asked in his usual prolonged, two-tone, toddler way, “did Mummy and Reuben leave Spot at the vets’?”

I wiped by eyes and explained that after someone dies there are two things we can do with a dead body: bury it or cremate it. Mummy and Reuben took Spot’s body to the vet so that it can be sent to be cremated, and then we’ll get his ashes back, which will look like a jar or tub of dust. We’ll then be able to bury his ashes in the garden.

“Does that make sense?” I asked him.

There was a pause as he seemed to be processing what I’d said. “Yes,” he said before grabbing his beloved toy dog Copper, cuddling him tight to his chest, rolling over and falling asleep.

Jane went out to her church home group, and I didn’t have the most productive of evening. It involved more crying than I had planned in my diary for that evening. I was fine until I had to feed Spot’s brother Smudge.

We had acquired Spot and Smudge while living in Inverness back in February 2000. We’d gone to lunch with some members of the cathedral congregation and returned with two kittens, and they’ve remained inseparable ever since. Until yesterday.

I’m going to miss him, particularly when he’d come and jump up on my lap during morning prayer in my study.

Rest in peace dear Spot. We loved you, and thank you for loving us too.

Day 20: A song that you listen to when you’re angry #30dsc

30 day song challenge day 20: A song that you listen to when you’re angry

Obituary—Redneck Stomp (Live)

When I’m angry I will mostly listen to heavy music. I let the music wash over me and it helps me to let go of the anger. It takes me out of myself.

There are some thrash and death metal songs that I find almost soothing, and when I’m really p*ssed off: the heavier the better: Slayer, Godflesh, Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, Sepultura and Obituary, to name a few.

This is taken from Obituary‘s 2005 album Frozen in Time.

(As you can see, I’m playing catch-up with blog posts over the weekend!)