This weekend, I had a planned excursion to a top secret destination, miles from home with a bunch of like minded, radio enthusiasts.
The plan was to meet up and drive in convoy to a soon to be disclosed location for a day of radio chat, beer, buying and selling, and an evening of beer, song and a magic show by yours truly.
I set off at 7am to arrive at 8.30am, I was 10 minutes early but they'd had enough waiting and knew I was not far behind. Within an hour, I had caught up with the Convoy and was no longer on the "Back Door"
Just before I got there, I had a call from my tearful daughter to tell me that my father in law, Barry, had passed away in the nursing home. They needed the details of the Funeral Director that I had used when making arrangements for my Dad, less than two years ago.
I was over half way to my destination and my wife told me to come home Sunday afternoon as planned.
My friends were updated with the sad news by radio and all agreed to have a drink in Barry's name.
There was a second call at 9.35am telling me to come home now. No more than 45 minutes from my destination, I pulled over on the hard shoulder to hear my wife tell me that my Mother in Law, Jane's Mum Sheila had just died as well, only 5 minutes ago.
Both husband and wife, grampy and nanny, separated by distance, but somehow connected. What kind of coincedence is this when a couple should die on opposite ends of town within hours of each other.
We are in shock.
My friends were updated and as they all drove passed, honked their horns, waved and over the radio, wished me condolences and a safe drive home as I came off the motorway in a daze and headed back whence I came.
Windows down, looking for coffee and a chance to clear my head.
I called Nick Gandon, the head honcho at Simplicita Cremations. Explained our dilemma and left it in his capable hands. He helped me before and once again came to the rescue.
Normally, on a weekend, I would be very busy with parties. I had saved this weekend to be a radio nerd. Lucky that I was available and I was back home with my family by 1pm.
The weekend has been full on ever since.
It's going to take some time to realise that our Matriarch has gone.
I saw her on the Friday evening after receiving an urgent call from her while in the middle of a magic show. I thanked the parents and children for their understanding while I called my wife to tell her she had been taken to A&E.
As soon as I finished the party, I left for the hospital. Strangely, I was performing only 5 minutes down the road, when we actually live more than 30 minutes away, I was first there.
Sheila had terminal lung cancer, we'd been told she had months, rather than years. At home she was coughing blood and was taken in.
I saw her, she was chirpy with a wonderful sense of humor. The emergency teams did their jobs admirably and made sure she was comfortable, though there were No Beds available.
Jane asked me to go home and see to our daughters who were in limbo with friends.
Jane didn't get home until 1am, she said that Sheila was comfortable and she was staying the night. Sheila thought she'd be sent home.
The Doctor said she woke up after a restful night, had breakfast and was chatting with him while he took notes and arranged for another pillow.
When he turned back to give her the pillow, she'd gone. Just like that.
There was nothing they could have done to save her.
Sheila was as good as a second mum to me. I always told people "I have the best Mother in Law in the World. I love her to bits"
Look after each other.
ALWAYS Tell the ones you Love that you Love Them.
Do what needs to be done.
Say what needs to be said.
I'm glad I told her that I loved her as a mum and a friend. I told her I would always look after and protect her daughter and grand daughters. And, at her request, that I would make all arrangements, read her eulogy and make sure everyone has a happy smile for a life well lived.
R.I.P Sheila and Barry. Thanks for your wonderful daughter. xxxx