|David Hague 1931-2012|
We cremated my dad last Friday. He died two weeks ago yesterday, aged 80, after a long slow decline into Alzheimer's. To be honest, it's a release for him and a relief for me (and the family). His mind went some time ago, and he no longer recognised anyone.
I've just come back from a week in the UK giving my mum a hand with the arrangements, sorting out the house for the wake and preparing the photos and personal effects we wanted to show to celebrate his life. The house was full of flowers and cards. I left a message on Facebook and was touched to see over 30 kind responses of support from friends. My boys wrote a couple of messages to put in the coffin, and did such a lovely job that my mum shed a tear when she read them they were so touching.
At the crematorium itself it was standing room only as friends joined the family to give my dad a good send-off. My mum had chosen three hymns for the service which were treated to a rousing rendition from the pews, to our delight. My brother gave a tribute which was both informative and amusing, while my dad's cousin spoke about my dad the person and their friendship. I was glad I had refused the suggestion that I say a few words as I would not have been able to hold it together. As it was, the calming voice of the vicar plus the beautiful words of the Prayer Book service helped to still the fragile emotions that had built up over the week.
After the service, many many people came back to the house for the wake, or as we called it, dad's last party. My mother is a great one for parties and my dad loved having family and friends over to enjoy some good food, wine and company. The guests looked at the posters I'd made of photos from different eras, at the poster dedicated to the RNLI, the charity where donations will be sent, and the bits and bobs that represented my dad - the pack of cards for his bridge playing, the school magazines open at the pages mentioning his prowess at rugby, his school cap, the wine glass, malt whisky bottle, Blackpool tram (on which he worked as a student), university papers (he was at Christ's, Cambridge), and so on. It was great to see everyone there enjoying themselves and celebrating his life, and supporting my mum.
I think my dad would have approved. His ashes will be scattered over the Gower cliffs where he loved to walk on our holidays there.