Thursday, January 8, 2015

The death of my father........

I’m sitting typing this on our outdoor deck as Summer rain pelts down on our tin roof.  Across our lake I’m looking at a magnificent double rainbow in all its glory….a sign I hope.
On November 16th, five weeks ago, my adored Dad took his last breath.  It’s weird to write that…and I still feel disconnected from his death.  Like he’s still here, still just a five minute drive away…I think the closeness we shared has left that imprint in my psyche.
And I hadn’t really processed that I’ve now lost both mum and dad until a friend used that horrible word ‘orphan.’  I don’t feel like an orphan, but I guess that’s the term for a person who has no parents.  I already hate that word!

We are never ready for those shocking phone calls are we?  Although you’d think I’d be ready for them now!
I was enjoying a work conference in picturesque Tasmania, a reward for my hard work, when I got a call from my husband to say Dad had suffered a stroke.  I was shocked of course, wasn’t ready again for such news!  I’d only spoken to him from the airport, again, naively thinking he’d be there when I returned. 
After hearing the news, I was hopeful it would be one of those strokes where maybe Dad just had a minor deficit in his voice or his limbs.   But after a frantic call to the hospital, the same one where my mother was and my sister….I learned that dad had suffered a fatal stroke….the nurse informing me that he would NOT recover….that he’d been moved to the palliative care room and I needed to get back as quick as I could if I wanted to say goodbye.

My voice was rushed, desperate, as I asked the nurse to put the phone to his ear, so I could tell him I loved him, in case I didn’t get another chance….and for my own selfish reasons, I got to tell him….and that I was on my way home.  Dad could only mumble, “cant’ talk, cant’ talk.  

All I could think about when I hung up was the date…it was my mother’s anniversary….however I felt some sort of peace that maybe his time would be the same day as mums........... 

And like after my sister died, I wished for a magic carpet to transport me home as fast as possible…but as I already know, that’s impossible too!  I had to wait out a sleepless night, and then through my tears, crazily jump on a plane and pray that he’d be there when I got the five hours back. 

On the plane home I sat biting my nails, willing the plane home as fast as it could go, crying and trying to hold it together and hide my pain from other passengers…. until I could rush to his bedside.
I got on the wrong bus at the airport, got stuck in traffic and drove most of the way with the road blurred through my tears.  But I made it.
I made it back for a whole day before he died.
He was unconscious most of that time, a morphine pump ensuring his passing to the other side with some sort of dignity….pain free.
The bleed in his brain covered almost his entire frontal lobe….the CT Scan confirmed my greatest fear.

‘My person,’...the only one who will ever truly love me unconditionally.... my rock , my daddy….the first man I ever loved wasn’t coming back.
In his hospital room was his wife and some of her relatives, the mood was somber however they wouldn’t stop talking…about insignificant shit…this is MY dad, my time!  
I wanted to yell, “Fucking shut up!”   I wanted time with him alone….just he and I…like when I was a little girl and I’d sit on the side of his bed every night and listen to what we’d be doing on the farm in the morning!!!
I got an hour and a half with my amazing dad…..alone, holding his hand and telling him how much he meant to me, and how much I’ll miss him, my tears dripping down my face, falling onto his arm.
The pain was burning and I knew it was only a matter of time until I’d never be in his presence again.

“Dad if you know I’m here squeeze my hand.”
I felt a flutter of his fingers….I know he knew I was there….and that gives me some comfort….
But I wasn’t there when he went at 3.20am.  I was sound asleep, exhausted but figuring there would be more time tomorrow……you’d think I’d learn by now…….