Two years ago, unbeknown to any of us, Russell had entered the last six weeks of his life. Looking back, some of the seemingly trivial events of this time will always stand out in my memory, but it was also a time of change in quite momentous ways.
One of the major things that I remember is the way he looked after his beautiful little dog, Callie. It was during this time that we discovered that she had several tumours and needed a major operation. I had never been a “doggie person’ until I met Callie, but I was as devastated as Russell to find out that she might not be with us for much longer. After an operation lasting over three hours, Callie bravely tried to make a full recovery, but she was an old dog and it wasn’t going to be easy. Russell looked after her so well, and she slowly regained her happy, bouncy personality.
It was also during this time that Russell made big decision about his future – he moved into a flat with the girlfriend. This was a milestone in his life for several reasons – his name was on the lease, he wasn’t just sharing with friends. Topics of conversation changed from evenings out etc. to the merits of different brands of vacuum cleaner and fridge. He spent his money on washing up liquid, pillowcases and hanging baskets – things had changed. Our reckless, devil-may-care tear-away of a son had become a responsible family man!
During this time, Russell was also thinking of the future (usually unheard of for him), especially his job. Although an accomplished landscaper, he wanted more, and was planning to take a course in carpentry, in fact, the birthday present he had asked for from us was a set of chisels so that he could start learning a new trade. He had already set up a limited company and was gradually building up a portfolio of his work, and formulating a business plan. This was one of the few things he didn’t rush headlong into, so we knew he was serious about it.
So, by the end of May 2013, things were looking bright. He moved into the new flat on the 1st June, and looked forward to the future. The last time we saw him he was happy, although still desperately worried about Callie. The last conversation I had with him was also about Callie. We all thought she would have to be put down on the Monday evening, but during the day she perked up so Russell cancelled the vet appointment; he was so relieved, knowing he wasn’t going to lose her that evening.
But then it was Russell who went, suddenly, without warning – just as he always said he would. Selfishly, I have wondered what things would have been like if they could have got him to hospital and put him on life support. Would things have been easier? For Russell, probably not. For the rest of us, possibly – at least we would have been able to say goodbye. But then, as we all know, Russell was never one for goodbyes, he always preferred to “do the off” as he so eloquently put it. And as Sarajane pointed out – this was the ultimate “off”. I think if we could ask him about those last six weeks, he wouldn’t have chosen to do anything differently. I hope that we will all be able to say the same when our time comes.