My Uncle died yesterday. He had been ill for a long time, but his death, while peaceful, was rather sudden and is obviously hugely sad news for the family.
He died with my mum – his sister – at his side yesterday afternoon, just 45 minutes after my parents had arrived at the hospital on the Isle of Man, almost as if he was waiting for their presence or their permission to go.
As my only “real” Uncle, I have so many memories of him going as far back literally as I can recall: Friday night fish and chips at his house with lashings of really dodgy Liebfraumilch, taking us down to Bay Stacka and the Sugar Loaf on Fisher Lass, him babysitting my brother and I (aged about 7 and 9) and letting us watch Alien, being brave enough to take me, aged about 11, bodyboarding on Gansey in a hailstorm – me in full wetsuit, him in a pair of shorts – long walks around Langness collecting firewood, surprising us with ice cream from Smokey Joe’s when we were on the beach, his old Maxi with the holes rusted through the floor, and so many more.
My brother had been over to see him on Saturday and while I wish that I could have been there too, I enjoyed a 20 minute conversation with him over Skype. My last memory of my Uncle Alan will be his disbelief at the technology in front of him as I showed him Cape Agulhas lighthouse and the turquoise Indian Ocean. He always loved anything to do with the sea. We even shared a joke or two. It might not have been the same as actually being there with him, but for me, it was a special moment – even more so now – and I hope that for him, it was a bit of escapism from his hospital bed.
I’m absolutely gutted that he’s gone and I’ll miss him terribly, but I’m glad that he died peacefully: comfortable, warm and well cared for, and with his family by his side.