Friday, April 10, 2020

A terrible time to say goodbye

I had a post ready to go this morning. It was about trying to launch books under lockdown, podcasts,  
zooming, skyping and the rest.

I was  then sitting at my desk and  my phone pinged and I read the message … a  little light has just gone from the world.

In my acquaintance are a family who are so talented (and a wee bit eccentric ) that they could make us normal folk feel a bit sick. But as they are also, really nice people with kind hearts, we let them off.

There was mum and dad, three sons and now as the grandchildren  are in their twenties, they are  proving just as  gifted. The 23 year old is already screenwriting and has several short  films in development, so I think the talented genes are being passed on there.

 They are a genuinely lovely family. The type that might make you might think, 'how did they get all that genius?' One son is a professional opera singer. The other an artistic wood carver, and the third was a sound recordist who worked in some very big films in Hollywood and New York for a long time before getting homesick and coming home. If you ever saw where they lived, you would know why.  I’ve just had a look at his IMDb page, he did a lot of very impressive work, and looking closely at his back list, I can see why he was interested in  talking to me about how murder was portrayed  by us fictional types.

The entire family live in a lochside house in the middle of nowhere. The views are spectacular.  I can think of three Scottish crime novels where a murder is committed on the single island in the middle of that loch.

The three boys, and their families, live in the cottages around the courtyard of the ‘big house’, and although  the  ‘children’ have now grown up and disappeared to universities around the four corners of the globe, they still return home  like   energetic (and expensive ) boomerangs.

 They have black labs running in and out each door. They have parties around a central BBQ. Bring a bottle, bring your own food,  they provide the midge repellent. Alan was talking to somebody about music at one of their parties. He mentioned that he did a bit of drumming. ‘Me too,’ said the other guy. Alan said he drummed for a wedding band called Nightshift. The other guy said he drummed with the Average White Band.

Over recent years, the family have faced the  issues that come with the process of aging.  The father passed away  on Christmas Eve a few years ago, just as the son was going onstage for a televised Christmas  Carol concert. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been, but he did it.

Then the opera singer's wife was diagnosed with  leukeamia. She had successful  stem cell transplant  but had to live in a bubble for a few weeks. Lockdown  is nothing for her. 

The big tragedy for the family happened three years ago. The  youngest brother fell over in his house in the estate. His sister-in-law was walking past and saw him lying on the kitchen floor,  went in to find him  still breathing but unresponsive.  The brain scan showed a massive a brain stem stroke and he has been in hospital  and a special care facility since then. He was able to move  his eyes but that was all. He could hear and see, but had no speech.

His mum,  now in her late eighties, went up to see him three times a week in the special unit, using public transport. She’s disabled but the bus drivers  got to know her and her routine. They waited until she got to the bus, they stopped especially for her in her village. I can see her in my mind’s eye, well dressed, matching outfit, hair up in a neat bun,  with her pearls round her neck,   and  her gloves  matching  her sensible shoes.

She’s a bit like the queen, but with bigger dogs and nicer children.


Just before lockdown, the opera singer’s wife, who had been symptom free from her leukemia for a few years,  started to present with abnormal blood tests.   Now she’s very much in isolation

waiting for the world to start up before her treatment can continue. The risks of infection  at the moment are just too high.

The telephone message this morning was to say that the son who had suffered the stroke died this morning. Good Friday, he just quietly slipped away.

They don’t think it was CV related. He just passed away.

And now the family walks into another nightmare. Only 6 are allowed at a funeral. The brothers?  His children, that’s four. The other sister- in-law is five.  The mother and the other sister- in-law should not be permitted to go due to age and co morbidity.

So who gets to go? Who gets left out? What a terrible decision  to have to make.

I am glad that it’s not my decision to make. I’m just glad to be  at home,   relatively safe, secure and healthy, still able to look after those who  are important to us.

Over the next few  nights I am  going to watch the Hollywood  films he did the sound for, and raise a glass or two to a very talented man, taken too young.

Somehow, with everything else going on, it just hits a little harder.




  1. That's such a tragedy, Caro. But your words do the family great honor. You're a terrific friend to all blessed enough to know you. Stay safe.

  2. Such a painful moment at such a painful time. It's hard to not ask why such bad things happen to such good people.

  3. Life. Sweet and sour. Brings to mind Robert Herrick. Hard to gather rosebuds when we're all in our little cages. Difficult blog, Caro, but quite well written.