Just over two weeks ago, I established that my Dad's missing brother - last seen in the north east of England around 1980 - had died 260 miles south, in Islington (North London) in 1985. From this, I sought the death certificate.
One week ago, I acquired details of the missing brother's burial location - a public grave, also in Islington.
Today, a copy of the death certificate arrived.
Mindful of my decision to share this information with my Dad, I'm experiencing massively mixed emotions at present.
In the past couple of hours I've dismissed the deceased as an arsehole, I've felt for the deceased as a rootless lost soul, I've wondered about the conflicting addresses (both flats) that were recorded as his 'place of death' and his 'usual address'. Who was the occupant of his place of death, and what - if any - was their relationship. But most of all, the thing that sits with me is the recorded 'place of birth' of my late uncle - surely only a casual acquaintance or a workmate would have suggested 'Newcastle' - the Geordie lilt is perceived in those from far beyond Tyneside.
Looking ahead, I can see that this amateur investigation, this domestic sleuthing, can go on for as long as I want it to go on - I'm wondering about the exact contents of coroners' reports and the likelihood of my gaining access to police archives. But despite that, and really most fundamentally, I'm wondering whether the death certificate should mark the end of this matter... something that started out as a truly naive pursuit of answers to questions that my Dad had sat on for almost thirty years, but to which I had been unwilling to let go.
Next month, for my own benefit, I will visit London.
UPDATE: At Emma's suggestion, I've just shared all of this recently acquired information with my sister. She is single-mindedly against the idea of sharing any of it with Dad... 'I just don't see what good it could do'. When I mentioned that I would want to know if I were Dad, she commented 'The thing is... you're not Dad'. Discuss.