Well. The news is, my father died yesterday.
I went over to Wales to see him last November. He had just turned 88 and was very frail, but seemed to be puttering along adequately. But he'd had medical scares in the past, and over the last month went into a serious decline. So I was mentally prepared for this. When I spoke with my stepmother on the phone after she came back from the hospital, she seemed more weary from accumulated stress than anything else. But she has a good support network and will be OK.
I will of course return for the funeral. The date hasn't been set yet. Lightning trips overseas are not something I'll find easy. But it will manage.
My relationship with my father was a complicated one which will not easily fit in this space. When I was a boy, some facile guidance counselor once suggested that Dad and I bond by tossing a ball around in the back yard. Neither of us could think of anything we were less interested in doing. Our ability to communicate in other ways was often at about that level.
Nevertheless, my father did much for me for which I remain grateful. He provided his part of a solid and secure family home life throughout my childhood. He, also with my mother's help, kept books and music around the house which I drew on for self-education. The books were mostly history; I was reading then-new tomes like The Arms of Krupp and Alistair Horne on the Fall of France when I was 12 years old.
He drove us on long vacations which took us to 36 of the 50 states before I left home. He paid for my undergraduate education (which is something a successful upper-middle-class income could easily afford in those days), and never raised any objections over my career choice of librarian instead of a more "manly" occupation like his own of physician. (He was an ob-gyn, which in any case is hardly the most macho of medical specialties.)
And he taught me two obscure but useful skills which I celebrated on his last birthday anniversary.