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August 2017

Da

I’ve never been a lover of the telephone, have you? Ever since I answered the phone when I was 12 to my distraught aunt - she’d found my uncle collapsed after a heart attack. No, it’s reserved for arrangements, and long conversations only when a face-to-face is not possible. So it was a mercy that the JB answered my phone last night. My brother was on; my father had died at the hospital.

He’d been there for six weeks, since the last time I posted, he had fluid around the heart after a fall in June, but after diuretics recovered slowly from that, then they wanted to investigate a polyp and other relatively minor things were discovered, and it dragged on and on, his recovery seemed to lag, and then he seemed a bit better, on Sunday. Sitting up in his chair, finally. It had been long enough for the dashing up and down the N11 to visit a few times a week to seem like normality. We’d bring his favourite treats, (dates, and biscuits and at some point this became a tradition of a Magnum ice-cream everyday at 2pm. One time I brought him two, not sure which flavour he’d prefer, and he ate one, paused, and ate the other.) put Nivea on his face and hands. Talk a little, interact with the friendly staff. I cut his hair once with the clippers, I’m glad to say - I wouldn’t want my Da to look neglected or unloved.

The JB came upstairs last night with the unenviable task of telling me the news. It was 10.30pm, I was in bed, listening to a podcast. He told me gently, he's kind. It seemed, still does, unreal. I cried.

Brother went down to say goodbye last night, but I didn’t want to. I want to remember my Da walking purposefully in his everlasting shoes to his office after a long 1970’s style work lunch, all sideburns, plans and high energy.