In fact, it's been fact too long. Which also describes this post... Too long. Sorry!
When I posted last year, on coming out day, about the journey that I had been on, and where I had got to, I really hasn't meant it to be a goodbye post.
I still stand by that, though looking at my rate of posting you may not believe it...
A lot has happened in my life since then. Unfortunately most of it isn't good. (But don't worry, I'm fine and happy enough)
Starting in September last year I started to make regular trips to the UK. I wasn't planning on regular trips... A family holiday in Centre Parcs Nottingham, with a trip to Leamington Spa for my brother's wedding and several days with my parents staying with us. Doing things with mum, little dude playing with my dad - including playing football, which is something he really wanted to do - and watching him trying to do to much to make memories whilst he could. This was a great trip!
Back a month later to my cousin's wedding. Staying with a different cousin who I hadn't spent time with since before I transitioned. And had a great time. My cousin's wedding was fine, no Mrs Stace or little dude so it was a long night, but fun and I saw a whole raft of family who didn't make it to my brother'sday.
And a couple more days with my cousin before I went back that was amazing!
But, dad looked awful. In 4 weeks he went from looking good, if tired, to being a frail, old man before his time. I thought I'd never see him again.
So decided there and then I was taking a trip to see him at home.
Another few day weeks and I was there in Scotland. He slept most of the day, though we had fun chats when he was awake. The third day I was there he didn't make it out of bed. There was so much I wanted to say make to him, but choked every time I thought about it. So I wrote him a letter, went to his bed and wept whilst he read it. Which he told me of for and comforted me. He comforted me... And I felt so loved, and at the same time so ashamed. The pain he was in, and as tired as he was, and he cared more about looking after me than about himself...
After a few days I went home, in tears, knowing that I was going to be back soon.
I didn't realise how soon. I came home on the Thursday, spoke to my brother telling him that if he wanted to see dad again he needed to go quickly. Monday came and I got the call I was dreading. Get to Scotland now. Considering that we are not that far away, just 1000 miles, it it not easy to travel between places. A last minute plane ticket, with stop overs, and as it turns out major delays, but I got there.
I spent the day with my mum, brother, his wife and dad. He was peaceful, and acknowledged us in the morning at least, at the end of the afternoon, just as my brother and I stepped out for fresh air he started to go - we swear he was waiting for us to leave the room, we ran back in time to hold his hand as he went. Letting go of his hand so the hospice nurses could get him cleaned is the single most difficult thing I have ever had to do. I took a long time, and my mum had to talk me through doing it.
I stayed with mum for the rest of the week, coming home when she went back to Leicester to organise the funeral.
A few days later and we were on the road again, this time with Mrs Stace and the little man, to say our final good byes.
It sounds weird, and flippant - though it's not meant to be, but the funeral was is great. It wasn't religious and the guy leading it did his research so well and spoke about dad. Not facts and figures of his life, but about him. And dad picked the music before he went. Something that will forever put a smile on my face, even as the tears flow as they are doing now. We went in to 'I'm free' from Tommy, and left to "We've got to get out of this place" by the Animals.
A few days later we had a big family meal. My cousin, her husband and parents, my brother and his wife, my mum and us. Great closure, and we spent the day reminiscing.
All of was in November. Things have happened since, but as this has already turned I to a monster outpouring I'll stop there...
I'll just leave you with one of the last portraits I got of him before his health issues started.