Dad was a very traditional type, he liked fishing, and visiting his family homeland of Orkney with his beloved wife Irene. He never went abroad – never wanted to, when all he wanted and needed was here. He liked meat and potatoes (never veg), his caravan and Billy Connolly - they shared a wry sense of humour (inappropriate but so very funny), and a good old knees up.
My dad had been poorly for a long time with strokes, heart attacks, and kidney problems, and at the age of 69 he was admitted to a care home. But while his body had failed him, his mind was still very sharp. He’d watch the news and he knew all about Coronavirus, but from early March we were not permitted to go in to see him – so we sent lots of letters and presents; pictures drawn by the kids, cards, messages, sweeties. We were so cautious, we sprayed everything with sanitiser. He was tested in early May and he had no symptoms at all, so we were shocked when it came back positive. Even then, for a couple of weeks he was OK – but when it came, he went downhill very fast.
All we could do was see him through the window of the care home. Mum and I would go there and stand and chat and wave to him from outside. It was hard for him, he couldn’t really hear us through the tiny open gap in the window, and he could only turn his head to see us.
On his last morning, I went to see him, again through the window and talked to him for about an hour. He was heavily sedated, but he still did a thumbs up to show me that he knew I was there. I said my “love you’s” and “see you tomorrow Dad”, but in my heart I knew I would not see him again. He passed away later that afternoon. He’d survived so much, we just couldn’t believe it when this was the thing that got him, it was such a shock. He was such a strong, determined man, we thought he’d live forever.
As told by Caroline Mayall