I’m writing this a week late, as I usually write on Sunday. Today is Sunday, but now I need to post twice. On Thursday the 18th of February I received a concerned phone call from my Uncles ex-wife B. They remained friends of sorts after their divorce. She hadn’t heard from him for too long. and hadn’t. been able to get in touch with him. She was outside his house and. couldn’t get in and he wasn’t answering the door. His car was there and the aircon was on. She could see inside and it was very messy, which she said was unusual. I suggested calling the police to come and do a welfare check. My Uncle had recently had heart surgery and had also survived cancer. I thought it was imperative to get inside in case he needed emergency services. It also occurred to me that he could be deceased. After calling the police, I stayed on the phone while B went to the housing managers office to see if they could help gain access. They said they had a master key but couldn’t go in until the Police arrived. I asked them to speak to my Mum and as his next of kin she would give them permission to enter as time could be crucial, if he did need emergency services. They then attended his unit, which is small detached dwelling, and went inside. It was extremely intense and chaotic from that point forward. I was on the phone trying to help B remain calm because she saw him on the floor. The two managers were on the phone with emergency services as they went through the necessary checks of his vital signs. All this happened while the ambulance and police were on the way. At the same time at our house my mum was on the phone with her sister and they were on speaker. Unfortunately he was already gone and he had been for a few days.
I have had close proximity to death of people I loved dearly when I was still a young woman. The first were were my eldest sister and her husband. They died together in a double suicide. The second was my eldest son’s biological father, he was also a suicide. All tragic. All so young. I was changed forever. My reality was fractured on both occasions and my perception of life was irrevocably altered. I had insight into the precariousness of life and also a deep understanding of what it means to be alive. I am grateful for every day. That word suicide, where did it come from? Something else for me to find out.
This time things are different. I was not close to my Uncle or emotionally connected with him. I understand that it is important to have respect for the dead. Well, I know people say it and it is frowned upon to say anything negative about a person after they’ve died. I don’t get it though. Just because a person died doesn’t automatically transform them into some kind of saint. I think the truth is important.
I have both sympathy and empathy for my Mum and my Aunt. I behave and speak mindfully as I am aware that regardless of the truth, this man was their little brother. My Mum speaks the truth about him and said he’s already gone. She gave him love and care and honesty up until the last time we all saw him about a month ago. He lived about 2000km away from us and was here for medical reasons. He had been given a clean bill of health in relation to cancer and his heart. He was an alcoholic. He kept drinking. A whole bottle of scotch would be a chaser to eight beers. He was an alcoholic for as long as I can remember. Sadly, there is not enough scotch on the planet to drown the demons he battled.
I rang my cousins in England to tell them. After being on the phone with B when his body was discovered, it was one of the hardest things I have ever needed to do. My cousins were both estranged from their father and had not spoken to him for many years. They both suffered terrible physical abuse from their him. Their mother abandoned them when they were very young. I knew how difficult this was going to be for both of them. They both struggled with trauma throughout their lives and after one being put into care and the other being kicked out straight after discovering her sister had seemingly vanished into thin air, they have gone on to have children of their own and loved them tenderly. Their kids are so close to them it fills my heart to know that they have such love in their lives. Their own Dad would never acknowledge or admit what he had done to them and they both decided they couldn’t go on trying to have a relationship with him because it was just too damaging. I was one of the only people outside their immediate families who knew of the abuse. My mum knew too and she tried to bring it up with him but he reacted with anger and refused to discuss it. He blamed them for turning their backs on him.
I hope that through his death they will be able to get some kind of closure. As they are in the U.K I will be zooming the funeral to them. I have also volunteered to read out any statements they may have. They might want certain music or poems. Maybe they will prefer silence. Whatever they ask me to do, will be done. He has another daughter and I have met her many years ago. They are trying to locate her. He also had another daughter, I only just found out about her, and a son, but I don’t know their names. They had different mothers too.
I am organising his funeral in an effort to make it easier on my Mum and my Aunt. It’s going alright so far. We had a sort of family meeting about it yesterday. That was a bit hectic because death does weird things to some people. I did my best to relay all the information I have been given and reiterared all the phone calls etc meticulously. I answered all the questions to the best of my ability. I’m not really close to Aunt on my mum’s side or her daughter and haven’t really seen much of them for years. I thought the best idea after being intensely grilled was to make sure they knew no actual money was passing hands to fund his funeral and that all the information is freely available and gave my cousin the relevant department names and website so she can follow up if she likes. Unfortunately he had not made any funeral arrangements so I have had to make an application with a government body for funds to have a funeral and cremation. My Mum was listed as his next of kin so the application has to be made in her name. I am also trying to organise the removal of his household effects and my Mum and Aunt might be driving all the way to collect his personal belongings. It’s a bit of a mess really. Guess that’s what death is like for the living. I mean, he’s not here anymore, he’s long gone. xo