November 29th, 1989

November 29th, 1989

Glasgow, Scotland

I felt a huge sense of relief this afternoon, standing on the platform, watching the train pull in.

“Hi, dad,” I said, giving him a peck on the cheek.

“Hiya hen, how’s it going?”

“As you’d expect,” I said, stepping up my pace to keep up with him.

“So, I take it everybody’s behaving?”

“Aye, right,” I said in a thick Glaswegian accent that made him laugh. “Welcome to the circus.”

“That bad, eh?”


When we got to Nana’s, the circus was in full swing, with all the usual animals, perhaps not all fed but definitely well watered. There were several slurred utterances, particularly from dad’s sister-in-law, that he ignored.

Mum was asleep on the couch and I watched as dad picked up the candlewick blanket that had fallen on the floor. He gently covered mum with it and sighed a deep sigh.

“I need to pay my respects.”

“Can I come in with you?” I asked.

He nodded yes and we moved slowly towards Nana’s bedroom. Outside the door, dad stopped and looked at me. “Are you alright?”

“Uh-huh. Are you?”
He shook his head. “This is never easy.”

We stepped into the dark room, save for the flickering candles that made shadows dance across the pale wallpaper.

“Oh, Kate,” dad sighed, placing his hand over Nana’s rosary beads in the same way I had. Neither of us spoke for a few minutes but when dad did, he talked with ease to his mother-in-law of twenty plus years. There were several tears shed, before I left them alone.

Tonight, in the chapel, during the short service, dad held mum as she sobbed into his shoulder. It seemed such an intimate gesture for my parents, who, because of the cruel nature of mum’s illness, have recently appeared so disconnected.

Dad managed to lighten the mood tonight with some funny tales from the past, in particular the story of the first time he met Nana.

“I couldnae get over the size of her,” he laughed. “I’d rarely seen such a wee woman.”

I found myself smiling when I recalled Nana saying, “Good things come in small packages.”


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