Today was the day my father died.
When I went to see him on Monday he wasn’t very recognisable as my dad – he hadn’t been completely recognisable as the man I grew up with since he shaved off his beard 9 years ago – but the person lying in the hospital bed riddled with illness didn’t even seem like the person my dad had become. But that person was still my Dad, so I held his hand, talked to him, stroked his hair, tried to give him a bit of water and sat with him.
The hospice has a room where you can paint, so I made a picture of an acacia tree and a mountain with wax and water colours. I talked to my brothers and sister, distracted my nephew, played with my niece. Yesterday was my niece’s birthday, so I told Dad that he could go whenever he felt like it, he didn’t have to hold off for the sake of us, but maybe not on her birthday. So he waited a few more hours.
Some short memories:
- Sitting on a swing in Westbury park with Dad pushing me from the front, I used to kick off his belly to get higher.
- Sitting in a dark, damp caravan probably in Wales or Cornwall or Devon, lit by a crappy little bulb with hot chocolate made by Mum and Dad reading ‘The Dark is Rising’ – I still have to put holly over my windows when Winter is coming in to ward off the powers of the Dark.
- Sitting in pubs with the Morris team with Dad tapping on an empty pint glass with his ring turned into his palm to make a better sound.
- Sitting playing in his dusty workshop in Drayman’s walk waiting for Mum to pick me up.
- Sitting (I’ve just realised that they all involve at least one of us sitting, but then he was quite sedantry) in the Space Cruiser at night, watching stars and stroms out of the moon roof – driving in the dark is always the best driving.
- Sitting in the Grandmother’s house with the cat trying to climb up his legs and then just settling to curl up by his feet.