Grandad was poorly this weekend.
He spent one night in hospital.
One night, but it felt more like five as we had no idea how serious his chest infection was, or what else might come of it.
My Father will be 75 this year, and not a young-75. Not a still-goes jogging/swimming/tennis-playing, or some other form of gets-the-blood-pumping activity. The greatest form of cardio my Dad does is mowing the lawn and strolling to post a letter at the box by the end of our road. It ain’t far. The lawn is decent in size but he rarely does it all in one go. These days, Mum ends up finishing it.
He mowed the lawn on Friday. By Saturday night he was in an acute-care ward attached to machines monitoring his heart rate and oxygen levels.
This is not completely out of the blue. He was in hospital twice last year, once for a few nights, and another just for the day (but sent by ambulance which just adds to the fright). Pneumonia, and low blood pressure. Mum and I have been googling a lot recently.
I forget, in amongst our conversations, our jokes, my whining and his grumpiness, that he is getting older. We are all getting older, we are all getting closer to death, but he is actually getting closer to death. He is 75 soon. And this is very very scary. Because not in five years, not in twenty years, will I be ready to lose him. One is never really ready to lose someone they love. How can you ever be?
He’s alright now. He’s home and he’s got antibiotics.
I left them all downstairs. Mum making soup, Maia playing in her princess dress and Dad reading The Times with a cup of English Breakfast in the dining room.
I have never felt more grateful for the three of them.
All safe, under one roof.
I complain to my friends about living with my parents. The clutter, the differing attitudes, the lack-of-independence.
I sometimes forget how f****** fortunate I am.
It’s a confusing and complex dynamic, the four of us, but when there is something wrong, when one of us is suffering; we all feel it. We all do our bit to help the other. We forget all the crap, all the tiny disputes, the meaningless shit and we pull together. Because one of us is hurting more than the other.
I do think how sad it is that illness/death is often what brings families closer together/breaks them apart. Not so much in my case- I like to think we’re pretty freakin tight regardless. But it does make me think, if you knew you were only going to see a person one last time, what would you want to say to them? Would you bring up all the meaningless stuff? Or would you just want them to know, you loved them?
I have no intention of mentally preparing for my father’s death any time soon. He is 74 not 94. He has a weak immune system, not a weak heart. We have had a conversation on the matter – several actually -and he has every intention of living well into his nineties. I made sure of it.
Some people think you can say “I love you” too much and it begins to waver in it’s meaning. I disagree with this. I don’t think you can say it too much.
I don’t think people say it enough.
Say it, to the people you actually love.
Say it and show it and keep saying it and showing it until they really hear you.
Love you Dad.