goodbye uncle dave

My beloved uncle died on 9th February.

It has taken me this long to be able to type that. My uncle died.

Even now, I can barely read what I have just typed as the tears have welled up to blur my vision. My uncle died.

My Uncle Dave was my favourite member of my family.  My mum’s older brother, he was the middle of my nan and grandad’s kids (my aunt died 20 years ago aged just 46, when my cousins were 19 and 25).

We don’t have a big family. There’s me, my mum & dad, my nan, my two cousins (and our kids) and that’s it. That’s my family (apart from extended family who we don’t really see).  And my uncle lived with my nan all his life. He was an eclectic old soul, never married, never even really had a job in the last 30 years.  He kind of lived ‘off the system’ – he didn’t trust ‘the machine’.  He looked after my nan & grandad in their golden years, especially afetr my grandad had a stroke 15 years ago, and then died from a second one 4 months later.

He has spent the majority of his time looking after my nan (who is now 93) and so many times she has said “I don’t know how I’d live without him!”.  He was 65.

In the past few years, my parents have spent a lot of time round my nan and uncle’s, my dad taking him out to go shopping etc.  A few days before he died, my mum said he wasn’t looking very well.  On my birthday when I spoke to him, he said his back was playing him up a bit.  A few days later I spoke to him again and he said he was still having trouble with his back and that he was getting old. i told him ‘tosh’ – he had never been old…a grumpy old man perhaps, but never old in mind.  He asked me if I could get him a Yello CD (he wouldn’t do internet shopping as he wouldn’t have a credit/debit card!).

A couple of days later, my mum parents went round and my nan said to them “Dave’s still upstairs, he’s not feelign too good”.  My mum went upstairs and said he was sitting on the end of his bed, with a fan heater on him full blast but was cold and shivering.  She told him he HAD to get the emergency doctor in.

He said “I know…but I’ve played this one all wrong.  I thought I knew what was up with me, but I think it’s actually something far more serious…and Jan, I think I’ve left it too late.”  They called an ambulance a couple of hours later.  He lost consciousness on the way to the hospital.  They tried to resuscitate him for over an hour.  He died from multiple organ failure and double pneumonia.  They think he’d had a heart attack a couple of weeks before.

He never said anything to anyone.

My little family is still reeling.  Obviously we have had to come to terms with the shock, but also my poor nan has been scared about what’s to happen to her.  she’s 93, with diabetes, a gammy leg, can only see out of one eye, has lost her sole carer and has outlived the second out of her three children.  We’ve all been taking it in turns to be there for her which has been rather draining for all involved, and has also put a major guilt trip on me as I am the only one who works full time (one cousin runs his own business part time, mum & dad retired, other cousin doesn’t work), so always feel that I’m doing the least for her!

I arranged a lot of the funeral though, which I thought would help me as I knew what was coming up next…and then my mum stood up and spoke, and the tears flowed, unstoppable.  My uncle was a creative – he was a photographer, he was a watchmaker, a geologist, an atheist, an intellectual, an astronomer, a jeweller, he played the piano, the guitar, the harmonica and the accordian – I didn’t realise he could also play the ukulele (unlike my recent crap attempts to learn this year!). i liked the fact that the priest had to say the words “extraterrestrial geology” during the service – and that I chose ‘I vow to thee my country’ adapted from Jupiter, Holst’s Planets as one of the music pieces.

I didn’t know he used to be in a band in the 60s called The Vampires, and that they used to go on stage wearing long black silk cloaks with red linings, and that they were pretty successful so much that he always had loads of money from their gigs.

I DID know that he was a fantastic older brother to my mum and that she is absolutely devastated, and also more of a brother to my dad than his actual brother…so much so that my dad’s dicky heart kicked in and put him out of action for a couple of weeks out of the sheer weight of grief and I ended up having to look out for him while my mum was looking after my nan.

I also know that this was meant to be a short entry for me to get my feelings out and feel like I am facing what happened…but instead it has turned into a long ramble – which is probably fitting as he always told the best stories EVER!

My uncle died. My life was so much better for him having been such a big part of it, the world is slightly less wonderful now that he’s not here, and I never had a chance to give him his bloody Yello CD!


8 thoughts on “goodbye uncle dave

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  1. Hi Sonja
    Am so very upset that Uncle Dave has died. He was pretty cool. Sending you and your mum and dad a big hug.. My deepest sympathy to you all. It was nice to read about him and I could feel how much you loved him. I feel so sorry for Nan , I really hope she gets through this time as best she can.
    Lots of love to you babe
    Mich x

  2. Lovely post about your Uncle and it sounds like he was a wonderful man. So sorry for you and your family. Especially your nan who must be feeling so lost without him. There’s normally a really strong bond between the parent and the child that is caring for them. Must be so hard for her, for all of you.


  3. Hi Sonia
    “And death, for those of us who live on, is the ending of a chapter rather than the end of a book, and although the dead may have no more part to play as characters, their influence may continue right through the story.” ( John Peel – Musgrove of the Marshes)

    I can think of no better quote for someone who loves books as much as you. Your writing about what your Uncle meant to you is so moving I am very sorry for your loss.

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