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I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

A Baked Alaska day

You`ve eaten Baked Alaska, right?

You get icy ice cream and sponge, surround it with meringue, and shove it in the cooker. Crazy, but true.The ice cream has to emerge still icy and firm, even though it`s surrounded by piping hot (yet soft) meringue. A moment too long in the oven and it`s game over, basically. Get it right, though, and it`s sweet, and memorable.

I realised some time ago that you can have Baked Alaska days, too. The cold, ice creamy bits are those chilling or depressing experiences that can stop you in your tracks. Bad news, maybe. A cruel word. But then something happens on that same day: a gesture or a show of affection which warms and comforts you, so that, looking back, it`s all good.

Yesterday was pure Baked Alaska.

It started at Dad`s house. He`s in bed 24/7 now as his Alzheimer`s marches on. He needs help with everything. I love to see him, but it breaks my heart every time. I help to feed him but I always want to cry and sometimes do, standing beside this once strapping, now frail former royal bodyguard, as he waits meekly for the next spoonful.

Anyway, my sister and I popped in to see him at breakfast time because we were going out for the day, leaving him at home with his partner and his visiting carer. We were going to the funeral of a dear uncle, our late mum`s brother. Dad had known him well for many years.Vic was the same age as Dad, and died after a long struggle with ....Alzheimer`s. Dad didn`t ask why we were dressed in black, or where we were off to. And we didn`t say.

Your first glimpse of the coffin at a funeral is always the worst bit, isn`t it--your unwitting gasp; the sight of the people who are feeling the loss most painfully.The moment of farewell can be chilling. Numbing.

And somehow, even funeral days can improve as the minutes tick by. Hearty renditions of `Love Divine...`. Loving tributes. Shared memories. Warm hugs with dear family members you haven`t seen for ages.Yes, and a stiff drink can help. I`ve said before that you can`t choose your family, but if you could, this is the one that I`d choose. From baby Alex, to a dear Aunt who`s nearly ninety; we`d come to say goodbye to Vic, and hello again to each other; refreshing that common bond; and the unspoken understanding that we`re there for each other, and proud of each other.There were tears, and some uproarious laughter too. And out of the blue, Ted, an elderly relative I`d never met, whose stories were vital new pieces in the family history jigsaw.

So...a day with sadness, and the cold, hard reality of loss. And wrapped around it, the love of a special family, as cosy and comforting as a warm blanket in winter.

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