Wednesday 26 October 2011

A death in the family

My father-in-law died this morning.

My wife and I saw him last Friday when we took him to have another look at the flat we were in the process of buying for him. He had had a change of mind about the move earlier in the week, but when he saw the flat again he loved it, and was looking forward to moving in as soon as possible. When we returned home we left him in a very happy frame of mind, and he was already thinking about what he wanted to take with him from his existing home when he moved.

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I had decided that we needed a break to recharge our batteries, and we were lucky enough to be able book two nights in one of our favourite hotels – the ‘Le Strange Arms Hotel’, Old Hunstanton, Norfolk – starting on Sunday. We had a pleasant drive up from London, stopped off in King’s Lynn for a light lunch, and arrived at the hotel in time for afternoon tea. By chance we were able to meet some old friends who were at the hotel for Sunday lunch, and we had a long and pleasant chat with them before we had to get ready for dinner.

On Monday morning we went to Holkham Hall … and I will write a special blog entry about our visit sometime in the near future. We then went on the Fakenham to visit a famous chocolate factory shop, and after that we drove to King’s Lynn and thence to Old Hunstanton. We had only just returned to the hotel when we received a telephone call from a friend of my father-in-law telling us that my father-in-law had fallen over and had been taken to hospital. We contacted the hospital immediately, and we were informed that my father-in-law had been found lying on the floor of his bedroom, and that he was dehydrated and may have injured his spine. We were told that he was as comfortable as could be expected and that we could visit him next day.

(We later discovered that he had been lying on the bedroom floor for at least 36 hours … and probably for as long as 48 hours.)

We immediately packed out bags and checked out of the hotel. The drive home was very unpleasant because high winds and torrential rain, and it took us nearly three hours top drive the one hundred or so miles. We telephone the hospital again when we reached home, and were told that my father-in-law was resting and that they were attempting to rehydrate him.

On Tuesday morning we went to see my father-in-law. We drove to the hospital in Canterbury, Kent via his home in Herne Bay, collecting some items that we thought he might need during his stay in hospital. He was asleep when we arrived, and appeared to be responding to the treatment he was being given. We waited until he had been seen by the doctors who were overseeing his case, and they made us aware of the problems that they were facing. It appeared that during the time he spent lying on the floor unable to move, he had accumulated fluid in his lungs. The process of rehydrating him was causing a further build-up of fluid, and that this was placing an increased burden on his heart and lungs. However, if he was not rehydrated, his kidneys and heart might fail. The treatment was a delicate balance between the two, and his survival would depend upon getting that balance right. They also told us that he would be asleep for the rest of the night, and that we should go home.

We drove back to London, and had just sat down when the hospital telephoned to inform us that my father-in-law’s condition had worsened. We immediately packed an overnight bag and drove back to Canterbury. We stayed at his bedside until past 1.00am this morning, waiting to see if there was any improvement. There was not … but his condition did not appear to be getting any worse either. We were by now both so tired that we could hardly stay awake, and so we set off to try to find a hotel that had beds available. We finally found one in Whitstable, and by 2.00am we were asleep.

We were awoken at 6.30am by a telephone call from the hospital. My father-in-law’s condition had suddenly deteriorated and they advised us to get there as quickly as possible. We did so, but unfortunately he had died almost as soon as they had telephoned us.

We have spent the rest of the day trying to sort out what to do next. Because of the circumstances of my father-in-law’s death, the Coroner has decided that there will have to be an inquest. Until that has met and a decision as to the cause of death has been determined, the funeral cannot take place. My wife and I have a lot to do over the coming few weeks, and I suspect that all my wargaming is going to have to be placed on hold until after the funeral.

I know that many of my regular blog readers will send my wife and I messages of sympathy. Please do not be offended if I do not reply to each of them personally, but I would like to thank you in advance for your kind thoughts and support.


  1. Hi Bob. We've never met. I'm a fan of your blog and have been following the progress of your father-in-law's condition as you shared it with all of us. I'm sure you'll receive an outpouring of support with his passing. Allow me to add my own condolences and best wishes. Thank you for all you and your wife did to make his life a good one this past while. You're an inspiration.

  2. Hi Bob,

    Please accept our sincerest condolences for your loss - our thoughts and prayers are with you both.

    Best wishes,


  3. So sorry for your sad loss , my and my wifes thoughts are with you at this sad time . Tony

  4. Very sorry for your loss Bob. Thoughts and best wishes for you and your wife.

  5. Our thoughts are with you.

    Remember the happy times you had together and the lessons your family learnt at his side.


  6. Bob - my commiserations to you and especially your wife... no RSVP required..

  7. My sincerest condolences to
    both your wife and yourself,
    I do hope that your bereavement
    is tempered by many good and
    positive memories.and that it
    will quickly pass.

    All My Best

  8. Bob,

    Of course you (and especially your wife) have my deep sympathy.

    Hopefully you will be comforted by knowing how happy he was the last time you really "saw" him (unconscious in hospital doesn't really count).

    Take good care of your lady wife during this time and find what comfort you can.

    -- Jeff

  9. Bob,

    I am very sorry to learn of your father in law's death. Please pass my condolences to your wife.

    I hope she can find some comfort in the fact that he was happy and looking forward to moving into the new flat when you last saw him, and that he remained active and independent to the last, rather than enduring the indignities of residential care, which - from your description of him - I suspect he would have hated.


  10. Bob - Most heartfelt condolences to you and your lady. I don't have the words.

    Take care of yourselves and what needs to be done. The wargaming blogoverse will still be here waiting for you when you return.

  11. sad to hear of your loss Bob. Thughts and prayers are with you and your wife at this difficult time.

  12. My condolences Bob. Our prayers are with you both.

  13. My sincere condolences to you and your wife, Bob.

  14. My sincere condolences to you both for your loss. It's especially sad since circumstances seemed set so fair for the gentleman.

  15. my most sincere condolences to your wife and to you on the loss of her father. Dick Bryant

  16. Bob, I'm very sorry to hear, not just of your loss but of the difficult circumstances. It will be a stressful time, please remember to look after your wife and yourself.

  17. Hi Bob, sorry to hear your news. Remember to look after yourselves and I hope you get that weekend break eventually!

  18. My condolences to you and your wife on your loss! No worries about replying. I'm sure you have many more important things to deal with. Take care!

  19. I very sorry for your loss. Condolence’s to both your wife and yourself.

  20. My Condolences to you both Bob.
    take care

  21. Bob, condolences to you and your wife on your loss.


  22. Bob
    Im sorry to hear about your loss

  23. Hi Bob,

    Please accept my sincerest condolences. Very sad news. Best wishes to you and your Wife at this sad time.


  24. Bob,

    I just now saw your message. My condolences. What comforted me under similar circumstances was the reminder that what you loved remains in your heart.

    Best Regards,


  25. Bob:

    My belated condolences to you and your wife. Blessings to you both. You two and your father in law will be in my prayers.


  26. Bob

    Sorry to hear of your loss. Best wishes to you and your family.


  27. Bob, please accept my sincerest condolences for you and your family at this unhappy time.



  28. My prayers and sincerest best wishes for you both.


  29. Hi Bob,

    I thought I would wait until things settled down to offer my condolences. Ross Mac has it right. The most important thing right now is to take care of your wife and yourself. I have been praying for you and your family as well ... Jeff

  30. My thanks go to all of you for your kind words of support and condolence. I wish it were feasible to thank each of you personally, but it is not.

    My wife and I are very busy sorting out my father-in-law's funeral, his financial affairs, and his house. I do get the occasional break, and I am finding that my hobby helps me to cope as it gives me the opportunity to take me out of myself, even for just a few minutes.

    All the best,



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