So the only option was to pay on my credit card and hope Mum would pay me back. then there was all the worry of how the service would go, as I'd organised everything from the date and place to the order of service, the flowers and the music - there was no other way as my sisters live too far away. I discussed most of it with Mandy, but I still felt responsible - and worst of all I was worried no-one would turn up. You see, the telephone book my Mum had next to the phone had none of Dad's friends' phone numbers in it. Or any of his relatives - and we haven't seen Dad's side of the family for ages really. I knew lots of Dad's friends were dead (he used to joke that 'I spend so much of my time on Bushbury Crematorium, there'll be no bugger left to see me off'), but there was definitely Big Cyril to contact and he was nowhere to be found.
Once again, Mandy saved the day, putting notices in the local paper and somehow finding Big Cyril's phone number. Then, would you believe it, when she phoned up, Cyril had only ALREADY PHONED MY MOTHER to apologise for not being able to attend the funeral due to ill health!!?? And she'd seen me looking around the house like a headless chicken a million times looking for his number! She may be senile, but she doesn't half play on it when she feels like it!
Then there are the things you aren't prepared for. For me the big shock was choosing the clothes for Dad to wear in the coffin. We'd decided on 'comfies', but picking them out and seeing his things, smelling his smell, it was heartbreaking. And the photos for the party afterwards - all those pictures of him from a child up to a grandfather - all that life, and experience and emotions; all the specialness of the person that he was, all come to nothing, all now just a shell in a coffin.
So after this, strangely, the day wasn't too bad at all. My sister and I both spoke, and it was a ceremony full of laughter as well as tears - at the things we said and the exit music - 'Theme from The Great Escape' (it was the last bit of music I listened to with him). Some of his old work colleagues came, his niece came, and we had a really good party afterwards too.
This is what I said - not sure how I got through it, cos I cried uncontrollably every practice when I got to the last few paragraphs -but I did, and I'm really glad I did.