We took this photo of you when we visited the UK on holiday last April. You’d just been ill in hospital with a chest infection but had recovered some and we all went out for a family lunch at a pub. I am not sure if I ever showed you this photo, but it was a favourite of Marcus’. It is a favourite of mine too. I can see you were a good man Dennis. Your eyes look very kind.
At the end of that holiday, when we came to say goodbye to you, and return home to New Zealand, you were so tired and fast, fast asleep. Marcus was quite unsure if he would ever get to see you again. And on the flight back around the world, he was tormented about that idea. About the distance he was putting between his new family in New Zealand and his roots in Lancashire. About not being there for you and for his Mum. We talked about what we hope for when we get old. He is a loyal boy – your son, I love that about him. The decision to move back to be near to you and Lorna came very, very easily.
It took a bit longer to get back to Lancashire than we anticipated, but we got here. In June, now with two of your grandchildren in tow, we found you still sitting in your chair at home. A little weaker, a little quieter, a bit further under the cloud of Lewy Body Dementia, but you were still here. You had a bevy of carers around you, helping you stay in the family home. And Lorna, always Lorna. Doing everything in her power to keep you comfortable and happy at home. There are many wives who would give in to challenges a lot less.
I’m not sure how much of all of this you knew Dennis. Perhaps that is why I want to write this here. Because many times we visited, and you were asleep. And many times we visited and your head was far, far away somewhere else. Sometimes you would be confused and talk some nonsense from a time gone by. Perhaps not know who Marcus even was. But sometimes, sometimes, we would visit and you would lift your head and smile a lovely smile and chat. On those days, we would try to balance Fred on your lap or on the arm of your chair and you would reach a shaky hand to him.
You were an amazing runner. Like proper amazing. And on one of your chattier days, you complained to me that you were frustrated that you used to run over 100 miles a week and now you couldn’t even get to the door. You pointed an accusatory finger at the guilty, silent door to emphasise the injustice. You were quite indignant, as though it were just last week that you were out there pounding the streets, and now – this.
Somehow, it made me giggle.
These are small things, I know. And, of course, I wish we had more. Albie, Fred and I had six short months with you. But for the small moments we did have, I am infinitely glad. You now rest in Haslingden Cemetery – on the very hills that you used to run all over. There is a lovely cyclicity to that and I am guessing you would have liked it there.
Rest in Peace now Dennis.
Love, your daughter in law,