Category: Knight after Knight

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 14.3

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 three.

Yes, life was indeed good.

Until, that is, I got up one morning and noticed that Max was still in bed. That struck me as odd, as she had always been up before me. Always. Well, maybe not always, but certainly since we’d been living here in Dar-es-Salaam. I called out her name. Nothing. I went upstairs, gently opened her door and peeked into her room. She looked to be asleep so I thought it best to leave her. As I turned to close her door, though, something made me go in and check on her, in case she was poorly. I put my hand onto her forehead to check for a temperature. It felt cold. I felt for but couldn’t find a pulse on her neck, then I tried on her wrist. No joy. I didn’t worry, as I really had no idea what I was doing anyway. I checked my own neck and wrist to be sure I was looking in the right places and found them without any problem. I put my ear against her nose to feel her breath. Nothing. No pulse, no breath. It suddenly dawned on me that she may have died at some time during the night.

I called one-one-two and described what I had found. An ambulance arrived within probably ten or fifteen minutes; I can’t be sure, my mind wasn’t as clear as I’d have liked it to have been. A paramedic came in, did pretty much the same as I had and reached the same conclusion. He attached a heart monitor, switched it on, ran it for a while and shook his head.

“I’m sorry, Mr Knight,” he said, “there’s nothing I can do. She’s gone. Would you like me to take her to the hospital or call for a doctor to come here? I can’t issue a death certificate.”

“Have the doctor come here,” I said, “I need a few minutes to say goodbye to my oldest friend.”

He called a doctor and left us. I called Lindy. I knew he’d want to know. The doctor came, examined Max and confirmed what the paramedic had told me. He issued a death certificate showing the cause of death as natural causes, heart failure.

Lindy arrived five minutes after the doctor had left. The poor lad fell to pieces as soon as he saw Max’s body. He was a much more emotional soul than I was.

“Where’s Roger now?” I asked.

“At home with the kids,” he blubbered.

“He should probably stay there,” I said, “I need to make funeral arrangements.”

“Does… did Max have any family?”

“No. She was an only child,” I said, “so were both her parents. So no aunts, uncles or cousins. She was the end of her line.”

“We were her family,” he wailed.

I knew how close he and Max had become over the years they worked together, and I did my best to comfort the poor boy. I did try, honestly, but after more than half a century of friendship, I was in pain, too. Unfortunately for him, Lindy didn’t have the years of emotional repression necessary to allow him to deal with this kind of loss without great displays of emotion. Or maybe fortunately for him, Lindy didn’t have the years of emotional repression necessary to make him deal with this kind of loss without any display of emotion. Perhaps it’s just the way we are. Either way, this was my third death in the family – and Max was as close to family as anyone could get whilst not a blood relation.

Losing Papa was, and I’m not proud to admit this, easy. He and I never really got on, and his transition from an active, if physically disabled, man to death took place over a long period and gave us all plenty of time to prepare ourselves.

Sophie had been unwell for a while, even if we didn’t realise just how unwell she was. Even so, her death came as a shock. Had we known the full nature of her condition and had a realistic if unpleasant prognosis, we could have dealt with it better. As it was, she went, in my eyes at least, from healthy to dead in a very few minutes. That was the shock.

But Max. Max. We had said our goodnights the evening before in the way we had every night since we arrived in Dar together: I was seated in my chair, Max said it was bedtime for her. She walked over to me, placed a hand on my shoulder and said “Good-night, Mr Knight,’, I gave her hand a gentle squeeze and replied, “Sleep tight, Ms Matham,” and we went to our separate rooms. She seemed fine, same as ever. I have no words to describe adequately the shock, the horror, the sense of loss I felt when I found her lifeless body. Knowing also that she and I were, within a couple of months, the same age, it made me think seriously about my own mortality. That was something I’d never done before. Oh, we’d talked about the subject, but it was always pretty much at the level of an intellectual exercise. Suddenly it became not only real but current; maybe even urgent.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 14.2

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 two.

Everything was going extremely well for us, professionally and personally. We spent pleasant evenings with Lindy and Roger and their children. Yes, after a lot of soul-searching, they had adopted two sweet little siblings, brother and sister. They had travelled out to Songea and visited the Jont orphanage. Their plan was to adopt babies with albinism but when they saw what Gabriel’s company were doing, they were persuaded by the orphanage that their life-chances would probably be better within that organisation and that environment than in the big city. They wanted to adopt at an early age but were unsure of their abilities as parents of babies. They returned to Dar empty-handed and involved themselves in various bodies that would give them experience dealing with very young children, including a period of fostering when a number of toddlers needing short-term care passed through their hands.

Finally, they adopted a brother and sister – city kids whose parents had been killed in a badly botched house burglary. As part of the adoption proceedings, they had agreed with the presiding judge that, when old enough, the children could and indeed should be told that their parents were killed in a housebreaking incident, but they should never be told that their mother and father were the ones committing the offence. That they would one day find out was a possibility that the judges and the then-prospective adoptive parents accepted – they were always likely to find the newspaper accounts or even the court records. However, everyone agreed that they could be told in such a way that they would assume their parents to be the victims rather than the culprits.

Maxwell and Mercy were delightful. Max was a bit of an imp. At eleven years old, he was full of mischief; watching him walking around the house, his eyes moving from one thing to another, put me in mind of the Jack Russell that Mama and Papa had at home when I was a lad. He always walked around like that, and Mama said that he was looking for some mischief to get into. He had the same look I saw on Max. Mercy, Max’s sister was a regular little princess. I know it’s not fashionable these days, but she was.

At nine years old, she was what I would describe as a ‘proper little madam’. It was as if she sensed that, even in this day and age, the right looks and an assumed air of vulnerability would get her anything she wanted. And she was right. Roger and Lindy absolutely doted on her. Not that they loved Maxwell any less for it. Their love for him was different. Not less, just different. Max they wanted to enable, to embolden and strengthen; Mercy they felt the need to protect. And yet they managed to do that without any hint of cosseting. I had no doubt, and I knew my Max (not that she was my Max as such, we were good friends and companions and that was an end to it; no, I said my Max only to distinguish her from Roger and Lindy’s Max) held the same view, that they would both end up as well-rounded, complete individuals, both fully equipped to make their way in the world and make a success of their lives, whatever they chose to do. What do you mean, how can you tell that when they’re both so young? Just humour an old man, will you?

We all enjoyed these evenings. Max (my Max) and I were delighted to see how well Lindy had turned out. After all the ups and downs, the business with Tanja and the wild weekends of his teens, he is happy, he is settled and he is secure in who he is. Roger and he are clearly right together and I can’t now imagine the dear boy in any other relationship. Not that I should be referring to him as a boy – he’s well into his late forties now and an accomplished businessman. Sure, from time to time, especially when he gets excited, he falls back into being as camp as Christmas; a trait he has passed on to Mercy, on whom it seems so natural, so right – well, it would be on a little girl, wouldn’t it?

Roger, while by no means ‘butch’, never displays anything other than what I’d think of as masculine attributes. He is physically strong in a way that Lindy never was; he tends to hold his emotions in check – in company, at least (who knows what goes on behind closed doors?). That’s something Lindy can’t be accused of. Lindy has always been as subtle and guarded with his emotions as a protester waving a banner at a protest meeting. They are so different in so many ways, and yet they complement each other. Individually, if one of them is too much in one direction for one’s taste, the other will be too far the other way. Together, though, they work, they fit, they’re perfect. And those two young kids have so landed on their feet.

Although there wasn’t much work coming in for Max and me, we did keep ourselves occupied. We offered consultancy services as sub-contractors to Knight Investments and Holy Island Services and we did some pro-bono work for a few local charities and community groups. Max had got back to the book she’d started writing more than forty years earlier and I busied myself researching my family’s history. Recent breakthroughs in DNA research enabled me to unearth a lot of information I would have had trouble finding otherwise and threw up a large number of candidates for the position of long-lost relatives. Interestingly, even though the DNA was out there, none of the people listed as potential relatives was called Stephen Parker.