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I had never encountered death directly before.

In my mid-twenties, I was scared.

I 'phoned Mum's elder sister,

'Of course not, John. You must stay home -

They'll need you.'

'Take your dad the evening news - and his glasses.

But no cigarettes!' said Mum.

Our stairs seemed cavernous and threatening.

Each step was an effort.

I hated being there,

Not having encountered a dying person before.

The early afternoon sunlight

Encompassed his bedroom benignly,

Painting each surface a dappled rose.

The curtains moved rhythmically.

That distinctive smell of cut grass wafted up.

Below, in their garden, someone was

Mowing a lawn.

Kids squealed with with joy as they splashed in a pool.

I sat my father up in bed and gave him his specs.

He regarded the news headlines but was far away.

'You've been a good son, John.

Be kind to your mum.'

I could hardly speak.

I could barely think.

Then, peering towards his wardrobe,

Dad told me quietly,

'They're all here all of them...'

Next, in wonderment, he asked,

'Who's that lovely woman?

Is it our Florrie?

No, she's too lovely -

Dressed like a duchess.

A real duchess.

John, who is she?'

'I don't know! I don't know!'

Rushing from his room.

My father, Wilfred Dallison, died in May, 1971.

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