For my series during #DAM2016 on remembering those people I have loved and who have died due to complications of any type of dementia, today I am remembering my father in law, Peter Watt (August 6, 1934 – May 29, 2012) who had Parkinson’s disease and Lewy Body Dementia. He taught me about ‘family’ love, the type of real, unconditional, non judgemental love for each other that I had rarely experienced before; he will always be in my heart with the deepest gratitude and love. My mother in law June died a few years before him from Ovarian cancer; I don’t believe his heart ever stopped bleeding…
My part of the eulogy for dad is here, as a tribute and to remember him. I loved them both, and they have left a huge hole in my heart, that although of course, we get on with our lives, never quite goes away. That pain, or heartache though, is a reminder of our love for them, so I’d not want it to ever go right way…
“My husband Peter and I have been asked to give this eulogy in memory of Peter Watt, my father in law, and we wish to thank you for being here to pay your respects to him, and share our grief. Dad died peacefully early on Tuesday 29th May. Obviously we cannot predict when death is going to come knocking at our door, or that of someone we love, and we have to forgive ourselves if we are not there at the time.
I have cried many tears this last week, for the loss of someone I loved, and for my father in law who I have called Dad for many years.
May you rest in peace back in the arms of your beloved wife June who you lovingly called Smiler, my wonderful mother in law and Mum, who I still miss. He would have been 78 in August this year, and so it will be the first time we won’t celebrate this with him, nor will we be with him for father’s day; sadly, it there will be many ‘first’s in the next year without him.
Dad’s eldest son, also my husband and best friend, has the same name, the 3rd generation to have been named Peter Watt, and I believe all hell broke loose when Matthew was born, and not named Peter Watt. He in many ways is a lot like his granddad, and has the same sparkle and wit, and very soft loving centre. Charles’ last visit to see granddad was when he was admitted to the RAH after a fall, and Dad loved seeing him there not wanting him to leave, reporting back to us Charles was doing so well he could give us a loan!
Dad always had a sparkle in his eye, a quick wit and sense of humour. The staff at the two nursing homes he has lived in the last 18 months had enjoyed this too, and some of the staff from Clayton used to visit him at Valley View, which is a huge indication of his ways. Occasionally he forgot to show this side of himself to his family, but as a parent myself, I suspect this is pretty normal! He and Mum had many friends, including Pat and Terry Lester and Anne and Robert Robinson.
Pete’s brother, and their youngest son Richard asked me to read this farewell poem he wrote to Dad;
I didn’t get to see you before you left.
I didn’t get to say goodbye.
I didn’t get to sit with you one last time.
I didn’t get to tell you how proud I was to have you as my father.
I didn’t get the chance to tell you I was sorry for being stupid sometimes.
And I won’t get a chance to say I love you again.
But I did get the chance to have a father like you.
Thanks Dad. (Richard Watt)
I felt some of that pain too as I was overseas and not with him when he died. The grief of many of family and friends who loved Dad, but for whatever reasons didn’t have time to be with him much in the last couple of years, is an example of how we are living our lives. We should not feel guilt, as it is so very easy to get swept up in our own lives, busy with the things that seem so important, until suddenly someone you love dies, or gets very sick. We live until we die, and it is important to squeeze as much out of life as we possibly can before we die, but in the process of doing that, it is so easy to become disconnected from the people who really matter. Although he is not with us in body, he will live on forever in our hearts. Dad knew we loved him.
My husband (and BUB) spoke at length as well, but closed by saying: “When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.” [Chief Aupumut (1725), Mohican]
In the hearts of those who loved him, Dad died a hero; May the flights of angels sing him to his rest.“
May everyone who works in dementia and aged care, please remember all of your clients had interesting active lives before they came to you, and deserve the same respect you would have given them if you had worked with them, known them as a Professor or Doctor, or been your own parent.
We still love and miss them both very much; may we be reminded to tell all those in our life now whom we love and admire that we really do love them, and make sure we tell them often!
We will remember them…