My father-in-law died yesterday. Peter was 94. He went as he lived – active until the final moment. No ‘old age nonsense‘ for him.
Peter was a physical marvel. He just stopped single-handedly sailing his own sailboat up to see us a few years ago. Just gave up badminton two years ago. Gave up driving a year ago. His life ended officially on a nice sunny morning at the mid point of a short walk to get the morning paper. I am not so sure that it gets much better than that. No lingering. No suffering. No pain. It was how he would have wanted it.
People die. So I won’t write a long blog about it…. there’s nothing new there, nothing profound. We come and we go. If there is anything profound it is felt by the next generation and, to some extent, on the one behind them. We all just moved up a place in the process.
So be it.
I called a few people we mutually knew but that was a short list. Virtually all of Peter’s friends had predeceased him and his wife. But R is still with us, thank God. They had gazillions of friends but none with the really-long-lives gene. At the end, it is the younger family and a few next-generation friends as a rule. For many, not even that. I am not so sure there are any of their contemporaries left.
Seems wishing someone a long life and prosperity might also be wishing them isolation and loneliness. Neither P nor R are or were isolated or lonely really…they have the family. And great neighbours. But getting on into the nineties limits one’s travels, socializing and, actuarially-speaking, most of your Christmas card list. Life becomes smaller, more private, as you age, I guess. You come into the world small and alone and so – I guess – you leave that way as well.
Sally and I lucked out in an odd way……we went to Vancouver to ‘do some good work’ for some friends who, it seems, didn’t really need that much help at all. We kinda wondered if we had wasted our time. But our trip down took us by way of Victoria and our grandchild, Leo, and, of course, we stay with R&P when down island. They like the extra visit and an ‘unexpected’ one was appreciated. We just recently spent two unplanned days with Peter.
The timing was good in that sense.
My relationship with Peter was good. We met when I rode up to their family home late one night (10:00 pm) on my 650 BSA motorcycle almost 50 year ago. I had come over from Vancouver after work one weekend to see Sally and, with the ferry and all, showed up on the ‘edge of late’ by my watch. It was way past the edge and well in to the unacceptable time zone by Peter’s. He yelled through an open window: “Go away! Come back tomorrow. Good NIGHT!”
But it was all uphill from there although I acknowledge a slight dip in the polls when Sal left home two years later to come live with me. She was just 19 even then. But, by the time the two of our kids were adults, I am pretty sure Peter and I were on an OK footing. He was a British seaman, after all. Had his captain’s papers. I was barely an able seaman my whole life and rank has it’s privileges.
Still, I will miss him.