The Blog

Why I'm Not Dying to See My Father Again Anytime Soon

You find yourself wondering whether the same fate will befall you. This is completely illogical as you've displayed no recent symptoms of anything untoward happening. All the same, you simply can't help yourself.

Conventional wisdom has it that there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes

There is, in fact, a third, but we shouldn't dwell on the inevitability of Ant and Dec again winning the Best Entertainment Presenter Trophy at the next National Television Awards. How many years in a row will that make it? 126? Funny - although let's be honest here, they're not - they don't look a day over 40.

Despite the valiant efforts of doctors and accountants alike, we must all eventually meet our maker (God) and our taker (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs). Even if the latter is frequently in a court of law with the prospect of a custodial sentence.

On the rather more depressing subject of dying, none of us want to contemplate the time when we'll no longer be around. Hardly surprising then that in our daily existence we tend to push any thoughts of departure, unless it's to somewhere hot - Bermuda maybe, hell maybe not - firmly to the back of our minds. Far better to concentrate instead on making the most of every glorious moment we have to spend in this wild, weird and wonderful world we inhabit.

As the title of the well-known song optimistically states: 'Got a Lot o' Livin' to Do'. Ironically for Elvis who originally sang this hit way back in 1957, it turned out that he didn't exactly have a lot of living to do, after all.

Of course, when anyone we know, famous or otherwise, sadly snuffs it, their passing brings into question the prospect of our own ultimate passing. Obviously we grieve for the person concerned, but deep down any tears we shed are really meant for ourselves. Not merely for our frailty and fragility as a human being, but for the fact that sometime in the future, we too will be in a wooden box at the front of the church or crematorium being eulogised over by our nearest and dearest.

There are several other times when our mortality is also brought sharply into focus,

When, for instance, you read that someone with the same name as you has checked out of Earth's hotel. (Out of morbid curiosity, the next time you Google yourself, add the word 'deceased' into the search bar). Or when an inconsiderate soul walks over your grave and you feel a cold, unexplained shuddering shiver. Or when you're strolling along the street and an ambulance zooms past with its siren blaring. Or, worse still, when you're stuck in traffic behind a slow moving hearse.

More than any of these though is when you have a parent who died prematurely of natural causes and suddenly you're almost as old as they were when they popped their clogs. It's at this juncture that you start to become increasingly and desperately paranoid.

You find yourself wondering whether the same fate will befall you. This is completely illogical as you've displayed no recent symptoms of anything untoward happening. All the same, you simply can't help yourself.

As D(eath)-Day approaches, every twinge, every ache and every pain takes on its own alarming significance. Each time you clutch your chest in mock dramatic anticipation, you think that this is it. The end couldn't be more nigh if it tried. To compound your anxiety and panic, you quickly log onto the Internet for a spot of self-diagnosis. Big mistake. Yes, there's no doubt about it, you're having a full-blown coronary. (Either that or a bout of mild indigestion).

Too late now for that long overdue doctor's appointment. No time to put your affairs in order, change your will or actually make one. Not much point in ringing 999. It's rush hour, therefore the paramedics will never make it before you croak. The best you can do is to call the most regularly dialled numbers on your phone so that you can at least bid your final goodbyes.

"And we were always very fond of you as well", says the voice on the other end of the line. Before hanging up, they add: "Is there anything else British Gas can do to assist you today?"

Barely into his fifties, my father had a massive heart attack. This wasn't his first scare. He'd had a couple of others. All the same, it still came as a huge shock.

This coming January, the 27th to be precise, will be the 22nd anniversary of his untimely demise. Most years since have gone by without notice, remembrance or, I'm slightly ashamed to admit, a visit to his grave to lay a bunch of flowers.

But 2015 will be different because I'll have reached the same age as him when early that freezing winter morning he collapsed onto the concrete floor of the garage he owned and for a few brief seconds lay there like a boxer fighting to get up from a knockout killer blow. Somewhere way up high a heavenly referee was counting him out. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

If by some minor miracle I manage to get past this important milestone, I'll breathe an almighty and selfish sigh of relief that I won't be queueing up to greet the Almighty quite yet.

However, in the couple of months till I know for definite, I'll make a concerted effort to visit the gym a little more often and eat far healthier.

It's brown bread for me. Oh Lord, isn't that the Cockney rhyming slang for DEAD?

Before You Go