Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 14.4

Knight after Knight250

In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended and for which neither was fully prepared.

A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.

Knight after Knight. Chapter fourteen, part four.

Lindy speaking to me dragged me out of my reverie. “What are you going to do, Boss?” he asked trying and failing to hold back his tears.

“I think I need to spend some time with my son and his family,” I said, “I don’t see them anything like often enough. I must phone him and let him know about Max. And Henk, too. He was very fond of her.”

“You call David, Boss,” he said, “I’ll talk to Tanja—”

“Do you still keep in touch?”

“Of course we do, Boss. We’re both regional directors on the same Board. How could we not be in touch?”

“Sorry, I wasn’t thinking. Yes, tell Tanja. That’ll get it into the rest of the Board. They all know – knew and loved Max. You’re right. I’ll talk to David.”

I called David. He was mortified. He reminded me that he’d only spoken with Max a matter of days beforehand.

“Are you ready to talk about practicalities, Dad?” he asked.

“Not really, but I’ll try. What do you have in mind?”

“Max didn’t have any family, did she?”

“No, she didn’t. That’s why I think it’s down to me to arrange things.”

“Let me.”

“Let you what?”

“Let me arrange her funeral.”

“From there?”

“Not from here, Dad; here. Look. She had no family. The closest she had to family was ours. Let’s get her back here and give her a decent send-off as a member of the Knight family.”

“Where, though?”

“Here. Knight Towers. Can you think of any reason we shouldn’t lay her to rest in the Knight family crypt?”

“Only that she isn’t a Knight.”

“Maybe not, but you and she have been living almost as man and wife for a good few years.”

“There was never anything sexual between us!” I said indignantly.

“I should hope not, at your age,” he replied with a laugh, “But seriously, apart from romantic or sexual stuff, what was the difference between your arrangement and an older married couple?”

“Now you mention it, none, really. We were financially independent, though.”

“As are a lot of married couples. No, Dad, my mind is set. Because of her relationship with you, not just recently, but going back more than fifty years, I think that Max should be laid to rest in the Knight crypt next to Mum’s memorial and, eventually, though not for a long time yet, at your side, where she has been since Mum died.”

“Can I think about that and come back to you later?”

“Sure. Let me know once you have her body embalmed and in a coffin ready to transport. Even if you say no, I think she would want to be buried in England.”

“We had talked about that. We both want to end up in the old country. I’ll dig out her will and if she’s mentioned it, we’ll be able to see what her expressed wishes are.”

David rang off.

“Okay, Boss,” Lindy said, “that’s everybody told. Dear, sweet Kanene wants to perform a traditional spiritual ritual before Max is in a,” he sobbed, “closed box. All her African friends will come. Her home village loved Max so much, they practically adopted her as one of their own. Oh; and we’ve sent word to Evaristo and Gabriel, and Abel, too. He’s sure to want to come.”

“Do you know of anyone in the business who can help us with all this?”

“I have a friend who runs funeral parlour, Boss. I’m sure he’ll be able to embalm her body and do whatever else has to be done to get it ready for burial.”

“The best casket money can buy…”

“Of course. We’ll let Kanene arrange her thing with him, then we can see what Mr David wants to do afterwards.”

“I’ll leave you to arrange that, then. I need to sort out paperwork and legal stuff.”

I left Lindy with Max while I went off in search of a will.

After a little rummaging around in Max’s room, I found her will exactly where I expected it to be. Max had always been as methodical and organised as I tried to be myself – not always with as much success as she enjoyed, it has to be said. I scanned it briefly and saw that, as I had expected, she had expressed a wish to be buried in the UK and that she had named me as executor. Like mine, her will was prepared under English Law, which we both thought would make life easier.

When I got back downstairs, I found Lindy sitting in the lounge, his head in his hands.

“How are you doing, Lindy?” I asked.

“Not well, Boss,” he said, still gently sobbing, “not well at all. But I have to hold it together for Max.”

“As do we both,” I said, “and though I may not show it in the same way, it’s as hard for me as it is for you. Max and I had been friends, close friends, for more than fifty years and we’d been working closely together for thirty.”

“Poor you, Boss. Sorry, I’m so absorbed in my own problems. I should think of other people more. I know it’s a failing of mine.”

“Not a failing, just who you are. And we love you for who you are. Did I hear a phone ping just now, by the way?”

“Yes, it was mine. Roger messaged me to say that he’d set all the official government stuff in motion, so we don’t need to worry about that, and my friend from the funeral parlour will be here this afternoon to take Max away for embalming.” He started crying again.

“You’re doing well, Lindy. Thanks,” I said, “Roger’s a good man, too, isn’t he?”

“I think so,” Lindy said before breaking into a full-blown wail.

The funeral parlour Lindy had engaged made a good job of embalming and preparing Max’s body. She was placed in a fine oak coffin and she looked really, really good. Kanene carried out a ritual in accordance with her tribal traditions which was attended by practically all of her village as well as a large number of people who had been touched by Max’s presence. Lindy and I were there, too, and we were moved by the tales that so many people told during the eulogies. Invitations went out to as many of her other contacts as we could locate, and we were again moved by the number of folk who came to pay their last respects to her while she was lying in the chapel of rest at the funeral parlour.

Eventually, the time came to repatriate her body to her home country. David had managed to persuade Black and Gold to make their Falcon 7X available – the same one I’d used to fly home for Hannah’s birth. Lindy, Roger and their children came with us. I wasn’t sure about bringing the kids, but Roger said that it would be, for them, a foreign holiday. They’d be looked after while the actual service and burial took place, if they didn’t want to be there for it.

I remarked that it was a great pity that the only time Max got to fly in this gorgeous aircraft she wouldn’t be able to appreciate and enjoy it. Lindy said he was sure she’d be looking down and loving it. Although I didn’t believe in any of that sort of stuff, from time to time I felt envious those who did.

The funeral went well. The chapel was packed and a number of people made moving speeches about how she had impacted on and improved their lives. As the day went on, I became ever more thankful that I had enjoyed the presence of this remarkable woman in my life for as long as I had.

A couple of days later, her will was executed with little ceremony. She had bequeathed substantial donations to various medical research bodies and, of course, to local Tanzanian charities working for the advancement of conditions for people with albinism. Having no relations, the residue her estate, which was not insubstantial, was divided, more or less evenly, between Kanene, Lindy and myself.







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