Two nights ago my sisters video called me from Australia asking if I would like to see Dad. Yes. Absolutely. He was so still I feared the worst, but when they put the phone near his ear and I called out to him, he moved his head, opened his eyes and the girls said that he said ‘hi!’. It was clear that he was near the end of life and so we just kept the phone camera on him and we all talked and laughed and they cried. (I have had so few tears I worry, but know this is my way. I seem to be able to keep it all in until one small thing sets them off).
I am awed by my amazing sisters and brother and how well they have looked after dad and mum. They have both taken time off from their own lives, spent hours on the phone negotiating care, appointments, equipment, treatment, wills, finances etc. They have learned to turn dad, keep his mouth clean and moist, fix a dicky syringe pump that was providing morphine while cooking tempting food for him and mum.
Dad always told me he feared an end where he would be sitting drooling in a wheelchair or bed, unaware of what was going on and being totally dependent on others for all his needs. He was dependent at the end, but he had all his marbles and was involved in and made choices about his own care. In addition he was at home with family around him and everything was arranged according to the different stages he went through. To me, it seemed like a good death and one that Dad would have approved of. He had often said in recent months how incredible he found his own family and how his children had rallied and that he felt loved. As mentioned before we are a rather weird mob, not all that close emotionally and far apart geographically. I think we have overcome so much of that because of Dad.
For me, so far away, I loved the video call. It meant it was possible to share some of what the girls and my brother have been going through. It made it so much easier to understand how close his death was and how it was likely to be.
Yesterday morning he died, his breathing simply slowed, then stopped.
Things feel much calmer, slower and sad. I fly home in two days and can’t wait to see them all. I will miss Dad.