(Not Charlton Related)
It is rare that your phone rings at 4am on a Tuesday morning. It normally means that someone you know is drunk and still up, someone you don't know is very drunk and still up, someone you know is out to upset you by deliberately calling very late, or it means that something terrible has happened.
I would like to think that I don't have any reason for someone to upset me, which meant that it was likely to be one of the other reasons.
Needless to say there is a short conversation between me and Mrs KH about just who would be calling at such an hour. It also goes without saying that I was appointed as the one that had to get out of bed, walk across the room and answer the call.
After answering with what could easily be described as a less than enthusiastic "Hello" it became apparent that it was the worst type of call you can receive at 4am on a Tuesday morning. It was my father-in-law. I know we all say nice things about our in-laws, especially when it is in a place that they could potentially hear/read what we have said, but I would not be exaggerating if I were to say that this is possibly the nicest bloke I know. As a Muslim he doesn't drink or take drugs (I don't do the latter, but a lot of the former), he is genuinely generous to a fault and he is kind and thoughtful. He is not the kind of man to make an unnecessary all at 4am on a Tuesday morning.
It is amazing at just how fast your mind can work at times. I had considered just about every possibility that he could be calling for from the worst to the 'best'. It could have been something terrible like their house had burned down and they'd lost everything, not really anywhere near as terrible as what it could, and in fact, had been.
He went on to tell me that his son, my brother-in-law had 'passed away'. He was 19. I won't do the normal thing that you expect by telling you how 'popular' or 'nice' he was as I am obviously biased. What I will say is that at his funeral, there were literally hundreds of people there. At one point I could see (needless to say I didn't count them) over twenty 'boys' (men in their late teens or early twenties) that were crying. I mean crying, not the odd eye leaking.
Needless to say my wife was devastated. Not that it should really matter because this was terrible enough, but five years ago her baby sister, who was eleven at the time, died with a brain tumour. There is nothing you can say when someone so young dies. He hadn't had a 'Good Innings', he hadn't lived a terribly exciting or high risk life that meant that he knew that this was a possibility. He was at University, he'd just finished his first year. The family were planning to go on holiday in a few weeks. My wife has now left the family home (we are married after all), but she was seventeen when her baby brother was born. It would be a lie, and unfair, to say she loved him like her own son, because she didn't, but she was a huge impact on his life and he on hers.
My son, who is now five, loves his Uncle. He loves going to stay with Nanny as he gets to play with him. There is something that a teenage uncle can get away with children that parents (even grandparents) cannot. I have never been threatened by it, but I would confess to being just a little bit jealous of the fun they had together. How I wish I could witness that fun again! We haven't told my Son yet, we are going to do that tomorrow with my wife's family. I am hoping that it will be the last round of group tears and that we can all move on to remembering this young man as he was, with a smile on his face and a huge demand for his attention - something that was always monopolised by my son when ever he wanted it.
I, personally, haven't been hit anywhere as near as badly by this as my wife or her family (despite writing this with tears building up in my eyes), but it does leave you feeling less concerned with other things in your life. I love Charlton, and I'm 100% sure that I will be following them until I die or lose my marbles. We have had a terrible year, but at least we, and the club, are still here. I can't imagine my life without Charlton, but I'd probably miss the football club less than my wife or my son will miss their brother/uncle.
My brother-in-law grew up in Peterborough and didn't really have an allegiance to any particular football team. When ever we played FIFA on the Playstation (in all of it's formats) he would choose the best team he could find, Man Utd, Real Madrid, Brazil - and why not? I had always threatened to take him to a Charlton game, he had always been polite enough to pretend that he would come with me, but he never did. For the record he normally won on the Playstation. Real Madrid always beat Charlton, but even when I accepted the inevitable and played as England the results were pretty much the same. In my defence he was 19 years younger than me. He was half my age when he died.
I hope that we (Charlton) sort our rubbish out , and I hope that my family can come to terms with their loss, but most of all I hope that none of you have to experience the week that I've had.
Up the Addicks!