We’d just moved to live in Jerusalem 7 weeks earlier from London – my husband and I and our two young daughters (two and a half and eleven months).
The night of May 20th, 2008, my husband and I went out together for the first time since we had moved. We got in an old friend who had moved here a year previously to babysit our kids. We went to an Argentinian restaurant I haven’t been to since that night. There was an all-you-can-eat-meat option on the menu – my kind of meal! We ate, we drank, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We came home around midnight, perhaps just before, and lights were out around 12:30am.
The phone rang at 2:40am. It was my sister who at the time was also living in Israel. I was of course half asleep. My sister spoke very quickly, half unintelligibly, starting off with something along the lines of ‘listen very carefully, this is not a joke, we have to go to England immediately’. I sat up to pay attention, the lights still off, and she blurted out something so quickly I hardly caught it until the last three words: “and Dad died”.
She repeated what she’d said. “Dad was playing football last night and he was in goal and this guy on the other team kicked the ball to him and it hit him in the chest and then he threw it back into play and Dad died.”
You think you can tell a story in six words? How about three? I’ll never forget that phone call.
The rest is a much longer story – it already makes up a few scenes in a screenplay I’m writing. On the way to his funeral, my sister quipped that the game had ended in ‘sudden death’ , which is in fact a football term for the nail-biting game that takes place after a penalty shoot-out if both teams are still on a score draw. Dad would have absolutely loved that joke – it’s the sort of thing he would’ve said himself, for sure. He had a wicked sense of humour, at times black but never offensive.
I miss him all the time – I was incredibly lucky to have him as my father. He died at the age of fifty-nine. Too soon, but worth every moment.