This morning I found myself in the unusual position (at 6:34am) of googling which main cast members of the film Cool Runnings were dead, and which were still alive. This came out of a conversation with my eldest during the film, about the fact that John Candy had died. Cue morbid horror/curiosity, and for every face who appeared on screen ‘Have they died Mummy?’ Hence the Google search. It may appear macabre to be having such a conversation with a five year old, but in all honesty, that’s the tip of the iceberg.
He was faced with the concept of death at a very young age after losing his beloved paternal grandma, suddenly, when he was only 2. Remarkably, he still remembers things about her and some of the more dramatic events about that dark and terrible time. It also meant we had to have conversations long before we were ready, about death and the notion of ‘forever’ so we are very open about death as a family and try to talk often with honesty and frankness about various scenarios. It does often lead to some confusion for our older daughter (2);
‘I don’t want my cereal.’
‘And why not?’
Sombre grave bow of the head ‘Because it’s died.’
I’ve got to be honest though, he may have got some of this worry and fascination from me…
I’m not afraid of death per se, it’s natural, we all do it and when my time is up, hopefully I’ll be surrounded by my family (I can already imagine the impatient ‘Has she died yet?’ from my eldest daughter). But that’s the hope. Because the alternative scenario is far more unsettling.
That’s right folks, I am terrified that I am going to die, in ridiculous circumstances.
I’m quite notorious amongst my friends and family for my frequent and often completely ungraceful mishaps (falling on face is evidence point one) I do often worry that one day my nine lives will be up. You know the type of death I’m talking about… The one where when people hear about the fact that you’ve died, they’re shocked, mortified.
‘How did she die?’ Awkward pause,
‘She accidentally left the handbrake off and ran over herself reaching under the car to retrieve a Peppa Pig figure’ muffled sniggers,
‘It’s not funny, it’s…really…not…’ Hysterical laughter.
At the age of 16 I had a Saturday job, working on a golf course in ‘The Snack Stop’ half way across the course. We sold bacon butties, tea, coffee and I loved working there. It was pretty straightforward. Keep the kettle full, the bread buttered and a big sympathetic smile for the golfers having a bad round. The shutters opened at the front and it was wide open to the world (often the elements) and the view was spectacular. Proper rolling West Yorkshire hills and moors in the distance. Grand.
On this particular morning we were between customers in a hazy lull of sunshine and indulgent yawns. I noticed a ball in the distance: that’s weird, you can’t normally see the golf balls from here. It’s moving quickly… Strange really, almost looks almost as though it’s travelling this way. In fact… Is it travelling this way? If it is, it looks as though it might travelling right for my – I took the only well timed and accurate leap of my entire life and landed safely on the bread counter, as the stray golf ball embedded itself half an inch into the wall – exactly behind where my head had been. ‘You’d have been killed! My god, you’re lucky!’
‘How on earth did you see that?’
‘Are you ok? Do you need a sit down?’ The fuss was unprecedented. Some insensitive so and so was more concerned about where the player would play the shot from but aside from that, I was reassured that everyone would have been distraught had I met my maker with a golf ball in my face (possibly more to do with the fact that it would ruin a lovely round of golf and refreshments would definitely be off the cards for the day…)
I phoned home to ask my dad to come and pick me up.
‘You won’t believe what happened today.’
‘You don’t need a lift home?’
‘Nope, it’s not to do with that.’
‘So you do need a lift home?’
‘Yes. But there was a scary thing happened. I nearly died.’
‘A man hit his ball wrong and it flew in the cabin and embedded itself in the wall [dramatic pause] behind my head!’
‘So it went through your head?’
‘No! Don’t be silly. I’d be dead! I moved away just in time, scary isn’t it?’
‘Let me get this straight, you, who can’t catch a ball to save your life, and have the motor skills of an amoeba, managed to jump out of the way in time to stop yourself being hit in the face with a murderous golf ball?!’
‘Yes!’ Silence. ‘Dad? Are you there?’ Quiet muffled murmur ‘Are you laughing?!’ Hysterical, continuous, raucous and phone shaking laughter.