“This was not the plan; it was not supposed to be like this” my dad said when he went into hospital on 3 February. He loved the life that he had with my mum in France, but despite fighting complication after complication following a supposedly routine operation to remove a tumour from his colon, he died at 3.10am on Monday, 21 April, 2008.
Last week, the plan was that he could possibly go home this week, so I’d travelled out on Saturday, not expecting to be told there was no hope. His death was our private tragedy, as mum and I spent the last precious hours, playing special songs, and just giving my dad every last ounce of love. In return, he did his best to keep his heart beating until he simply couldn’t suck any more life into his lungs.
It is an honour to share someone’s final moments – and the nurses bestowed respect and dignity. They deal with such private tragedies every day – on Saturday a young couple had lost their baby at the 6th month of pregnancy and been told they could not have more children. Another heart-breaking life story. My mum and the baby’s father had held each other and cried together.
You won’t read about our stories in the news – my dad was not famous, did not make history, was not involved in a public tragedy worthy of reporting. There’s no press release, no questions to answer – except the biggest of all – why?
But there are many people who have wept since hearing that Richard Liddiment has died. The church bells are ringing in Roquefeuil, the tiny village where my parents have lived for the last six years. This is a French honour, for a true English gentleman. The villagers asked if they could start a book to pay their respects, and within minutes, so many had expressed their sorrow. They did not share a common language, but my parents were taken to heart.
My dad was a quiet man, a kind man. A man who has passed with a light soul – because he has left so many people with a good feeling when they think of him. Many happy memories and laughter.
My parents had been together since they were fifteen, over fifty years ago. We had a perfect childhood and were so loved. We wanted to be like him, my brother and I. And, we were not alone in looking up to him, idolising him – I can see him also in Winston and Rick. Young men who will carry forward a legacy of my father.
Everywhere I look, I feel my dad’s presence – in the millions of little things he did for me, in my manner, my skills, my outlook on life. These are ripples in the pond of life.
When we left the hospital, nurses cried and hugged my mum as if their own father had died. They had seen how much he was loved and how he fought so hard to live – they came to love him too.
I’ll miss him so much – je suis désolé