My farewell to William

by Mara – his daughter.


This physical life has many indignities.


We are biological beings, and that is both wonderful, and terrible.


The indignities, discomforts, pains, and challenges of birth, coming into this life, are superseded only by the even greater indignities and challenges of death and dying.


William was my father.


He was there for me at my coming in to this life.

I love him and honour him for many things – but the most personal and deepest was that he respected and affirmed my essential self, who I am, from the time I was a baby, and with all the frustrations of being in a body I could not control and a life I did not yet understand.


I was privileged to be able to do the same for him at his passing out of this life.


In the past few years, and especially in the last few months and weeks, his body was failing him – all the delicate biological processes no longer able to maintain proper function.


His heart was wearing out after 85 years, and his neurones were winking out one by one, like a city with the lights going out. He became unable to walk, unable to feed himself, and was undergoing progressive cognitive decline.


But right to the end, even when he was almost too weak to move his hand over mine, there was still that fierce intelligence and awareness in his eyes, the same sense of irony, the same combination of gentleness and toughness, and throughout, an appreciation of our love and caring.


I’ll share just one incident that stays in my mind.


A few weeks before he went into hospital this final time, still mobile but with his neuromotor coordination failing and needing frequent help, he asked me, “Where’s my Patricia?”


“She’s in the garden. Why do you want her?” I asked.


He answered, “I just want to tell her I love her.”