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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.

58 views4 comments


Darrell Troon
Darrell Troon
May 27, 2023

Moving, left me with a lump in my throat, and Goosebumps


Alison Blevins
Alison Blevins
May 25, 2023

A moving story beautifully told, thank you


Stephen Kingsnorth
Stephen Kingsnorth
May 17, 2023

Moving recollections that stay with us forever... until we are the one lying in the bed... but revisiting and rehearsing them is a balm in itself - 'liminal' moments, as I would say!

John Dallison
John Dallison
May 17, 2023
Replying to

Thanks, Stephen! I thought of the experiences you must have had, relating to your work.

The episode was 'transitional in a number of ways, not least of which was my introduction to matters spiritual.

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