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  • His last years were hard. My dad's. Too much illness.

    But borne well, with good humour. He always liked a laugh. All his life.

    We were all summoned to the hospice, as the life slipped out of him.

    Mum, my brother and I sat with him. He was propped up on a pillow, a long absent stare draped over him like a veil.

    But he kept lifting from the pillow, and staring.
    Differently. Observantly.
    Not absently.
    Off towards some point high in front of him across the room.

    "What are you looking at Donnie?" said mum anxiously.

    No answer. (of course)

    Again "Donnie, what is it? What can you see?" said mum, disturbed.

    "It's the writing" said my brother.

    "What?" said mum

    "The writing." he said again.

    "What writing?" she asked "Where?" puzzled now.

    "The writing on the wall" my brother said. And he and I both laughed. Knowing (as brothers do), just knowing.

    Dad stirred a little. Mum looked utterly dismayed.

    But only for a moment. Then she too smiled. Then laughed.

    And we all laughed.

    Dad decided later that night to leave us. After years of being at the beck and call of illness, keeping it's schedule, he chose his own time to depart.

    But how satisfying to leave after laughing with us all.

    Birth.
    Mirth.
    Earth.

    Thats life.
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