Januarys are always a bit slow. A couple of scribbles on his calendar reminded him when to put the brown bin out, and of a visit to the dentist on the fourteenth. And in February the brown bin routinely moved to and fro.
Dad’s diagnosis was unforeseen. Oh, he had been feeling unwell beforehand. But he’d been ‘a bit groggy’ for at least thirty or forty years, and at seventy-eight it was always going to be ‘just one of those things’, wasn’t it?
Neither mum nor I were ever the most sympathetic of folk, but eventually even we realized that this was something that couldn’t be put paid to with TCP, paracetamol or impatient tuts.
In March the calendar was dark with ink. Busy, busy, busy. The year was well and truly underway. Birthdays, dinners, and family visits right through to August.
After several weeks of ‘procedures,’ tests, and scans the nurse explained, “Some people with terminal cancer might decide to go on a cruise . . . Don’t you do that!”
Dad had been an ordained minister for many years. He had visited the sick and anointed the dying, conducted their funerals and interred their ashes, knew their families and worked with their undertakers. And his firm faith prevented any fear of death for him. Death wasn’t the problem here, it was the dying. It’s not as easy as it looks.
The following short weeks seemed so agonizingly long at the time. They were the very best and the very worst times that I’d ever spent with Dad. Intense and emotional beyond words.
Less than two months after his diagnosis Dad went on to the afterlife while the rest of us went on to the aftermath.
There was a reminder to himself to record the Proms in September, and a hospital appointment on the first of October. After that, nothing.