In Spring 2020 when we were locked down at home in a pandemic, my Dad was in and out of hospital. He never tested positive for Covid, but shared hospital wards with those who were, despite daily pronouncements from an FM to the contrary. To my shame, I argued with Dad about this, only to be put right by his doctors.
Dad was brought home by hospital transport twice in Summer 2020 – the first time his driver had no PPE at all and when I objected he argued with me about its usefulness and necessity. On the second occasion I learned that Larbert hospital was employing private contractors to transport patients even when family carers were able and willing to do this.
My family delayed arranging home care for Dad because we worried about Covid. For the same reason we could not contemplate his spending his last few days in a care home. Between us, we tried our best to look after him at home for as long as he wanted to be there. We could have done more but recognise that we’re not superhuman.
Dad’s last days comprised few visitors – my brothers and I, my son, niece and nephew didn’t get together with Dad for his birthday because it wasn’t permitted. We foreswore a Father’s Day celebration as that was also against the rules. When Dad was admitted in emergencies we visited individually, unable to be together to assist Dad or each other, because we respected the rules – those rules which were designed to keep most of us alive. Dad’s pain and ours immeasurable.
Dad’s funeral was graveside only. Naturally we invited everyone we could and we ignored strictures about numbers outside in the open air, because we’re not daft or supine. We don’t have a headstone erected yet because we can’t decide on the type of stone or design but we agree an epitaph for a man who was a son of Scotland.
Dad wasn’t always an old man with false teeth, swollen ankles and a hacking cough. He left school aged 15 and 20 years later was building the oil pipeline across the Sahara. He was friends with the Tuareg and familiar with counter-revolutionaries. He employed and encouraged hundreds in construction in Scotland and he left a mark of decency upon all he met, from window cleaner to milkman, GP and home carer.
My Dad will forever rest streets ahead of Johnson and his lies, his jibes, jokes, jousting and clever boxing. Johnson spread a virus because he’s a killer, a liar, one of the entitled, privileged and protected. Real people are those like my Dad whose values are honesty, honour and decency.
No more bullshit Scotland. Our country deserves and demands far better. Let’s go. Now.