Bristol October 4th

I have a lot of time on my own again right now. Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays I work from home if I’m not going somewhere, like back to Suffolk to be with Dad as I have the last 4 weekends. But not this one.

I spoke to both of them this morning. Mum sounded sombre. His mouth has become really sore – thrush, a side effect from the steroids he’s taking while his eyes have become swollen and watery from the tumour.

‘It’s tedious’, she said.

‘You’re doing an amazing job, Mum’. Must try and stay upbeat for them. As Dad was when I spoke to him. I could hear his speaking was muffled or slightly slurred but he was keen to tell me about the visitors ‘Lucy in great form’ and the rugby:

‘I’ve been watching a lot and all the games seem to be quite similar – there’s a lot of kicking.’ At least he’s still mentally together. He asked if I was going walking this weekend, always interested but I said I’d been put off by the weather but I would be home next weekend.

 

I cast my mind back to 2 weekends ago. It was like nothing had changed apart from Dad’s mobility. The fact he needs help going to the loo and walking with his frame on wheels. The sun was still shining. Summer’s lease had been extended. A little gift from the gods.

On Saturday morning I gathered all the apples from under the apple trees thinking about how beautiful their house and garden is. How I’d probably appreciated it from this unusual angle before. How it had taken something like this to see it in a different light.

I mowed the little square of garden outside the conservatory which I hadn’t managed to do the weekend before. It was the same little bit of lawn which had been the setting – in my mind – for Dad’s decline over the Summer. It’s where I first saw him looking absent-minded earlier in the Summer, where he had stood with Mum on the day of the photos looking suddenly older and where he now sat contentedly on the paving stones watching me mow it. Making stripes beside him, wanting to get it right.

It was such a warm day that day and the light only a touch softer. And T and T and little B came for lunch. We all had a drink at 12.30 and he chatted away without hesitation or falter as if nothing was wrong. As if to validate what we were all thinking, he said – not deliberately – but offhand in answer to whether he was OK:

‘I’m fine – just enjoying having all my family around me.’

After lunch while he and mum slept the rest of us caught up outside in the circle of deckchairs. The scene of so many chats! So lucky that we all get on so well. How many times have we said that? And it’ll stand us in good stead when he’s gone.

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