I met Harry Heritage at the bike shop because he was having a new brake cable fitted by a very nice bike mechanic called John. Then, the journey into remembering began - in thick fog. I rode Harry across the bridge over the river adur and started to make my way up the narrow road that lead to Botolphs. Within a couple of miles my fingers had gone completely numb with the cold. I dismounted the bike and sat on my hands which didn't really work, so I tried hiding behind a bush instead and pissing on them which warmed them up a bit.
The climb over Bostal was brutal - my legs were aching from the cold and the fatigue was horrendous but in 'the true spirit of Jim' I continued to work my way through the gears. I could hear Dads voice inside my head - cmon lad, I believe in you. For a moment I sensed the presence of a demon hill climber pedalling alongside me, holding my heart, encouraging me to keep going. Father and son riding side by side - mighty companions.
I started to reflect on Dads final moments.
On recieving news of Pops rapid decline I called up the nurse at the East Lancs Hospice, who informed me that Dad was preparing to leave his body. He was semi-conscious and no longer able to speak. The nurse held the phone against his ear. I could hear his shallow breathing. The second he heard my voice the nurse told me that his eyes opened wide. I thanked him for all the support he had given me during this lifetime, and the healing that had taken place between us. Then, I gently encouraged him to let go and take a step towards God.
'DAD ... I LOVE YOU '
I hung up the phone and wept uncontrollably. Then, I ran myself a hot bath and bathed in candlight. I retired for bed feeling at peace.
Dad died peacefully in the early hours of the morning with his beloved Jenny holding his hand.
Eventually, I reached the summit of the hill, tears streaming down my face. There is nothing greater than grief and sorrow for opening a pathway to the heart. My fingers had started to thaw - the pins and needles were so unbearable that I almost fell off the bike. I quickly jumped off, and hopped around at the side of the road vigorously rubbing my hands together.
The descent into Lancing was lovely - the mist had lifted and the sun was shining. - I was living life at the speed of bike.
I stopped off at Lake View cafe for some nosh; fish finger sarnies, chips and a mug of tea. There is nothing better than a bike ride on a freezing winters day for working up a hearty appetite. ( See right for a photo of my big 'riding for Jim' lunch )
There will never be a day without Dad in it. Our love is stronger than death - without beginning or end.
Thank you Dad... for always being a pal. Xxx
Note* Please click on the following link to read a really cool blog by Elloa Barbour called Dear Jim.