The second consecutive visit to my Mum’s house since Dad’s awful seduction into the stroke ward at the city’s Royal Infirmary and the talk of the next steps are just the same; not to rush, not to panic, and to wait and see. For what exactly? But I must remain calm because Mum’s in shock, I’ve got a family and a job to deal with and a shit load of travelling between Worcester and Leicester to do. I’m not complaining, it’s just tiring and wearing both physically and mentally. And Mum; well she’s never been apart from her husband for this long for ever I think, or at least since they were married which is 60 years plus (I’m ashamed I don’t know how long, but i’ll find out) and so, well, you can probably not imagine how she’s feeling.
Keep things simple, don’t raise your voice, help out and never say I told you so. Thats the mantra I’m now well used to, we are where we are. More’s the pity, and I wish we were elsewhere but we are not.
Me and My Mum, who don’t have much to do with each other really; pleasantries and printouts of the children who Granny doesn’t really know, printouts from the PC upstairs which Dad knows how to open up and to start up in order to get the photos I send them of the kids whose lives have been lived for the most part through photos on normal printing paper, which fade after a week as they balance on the table in the kitchen, propped up by useless trinkets, now unreplied to invitations and ashtrays full of keys.
So I’ve come over on a Tuesday to deliver some drugs to Dad, sent by courier from the health centre, organised by me last time I came over to save them the bother. I slept over on Monday night, in a damp room where a real close up camera could probably see the spores floating through the air, swirling around the melody of my nose as I breathe in and out, barely snoring, which I think I can get away with, as Mrs T is upstairs doing just the same, but not surrounded by fungi spores.
I woke late, waking up for 2 hours between 3 and 5, and became aware of someone knocking on the door to deliver a package; pushing the parcel through the letterbox which I found still sitting on the mat as I walked downstairs to brew up for us, Mum sitting in the room next door reading the paper (I won’t say which one). She didn’t hear.
An hour and I’m ready to go, package of drugs and a comb in a plastic bag wrapped up, sellotaped shut with my Dad’s name and address written on a small piece of paper, itself taped to the taped up bag. Like I’m sending the parcel off to him in prison. Then I was going to go and get a bunch of food for my Mum, so she doesn’t have to rely on the neighbours. Plus I’ve just driven all the fucking way over here so I want to make my self useful rather than watch afternoon telly with Mum, which although comforting for her would not perform any practical use, which is of the essence, in the position we find ourselves in today.
God I could do with a cigarette. But they’d both smell it, Mum deaf but with a nose like a bloodhound, and Dad; incapacitated but with a noise like a bloodhound, and both would rather tell me off (49 years old) than worry about the event horizon of the parental black hole we seem to be circling at the moment.
Parked up, met a lovely nurse in reception who was waiting in the lift queue with me and discovered we were both going to the stroke ward, I to see my Dad, and her, coincidentally, to take my Dad for further tests on the blood flow to his brain in his neck. She said I could wait for a few minutes outside the ward, she’d fetch Dad and I could go down with him and hang out at the TIA ward (no idea).
Covid prevents any visitors into the ward and so we have only spoken on the phone, the ward phone (Dad doesn’t know how to use a mobile and its too late now) and so when he was wheeled out, his face half frozen and his brain numb with the endless starting into space and shifting of his catheter tube against the bedclothes as he lays there with the intense screaming of his neighbour ringing in his ears; Dad unsure as to wether he’s screaming or not anymore. HIs eyes lit up when we saw each other, I gave him a big hug, and his splintered voice withered by the dryness of his throat cracked with emotion as he whispered incoherently in my ear, noises of pleasure and gasps of “Aaah yes” I think. We walked down, talked, chuckled and mentioned the situation we were in briefly, the elephant in the room, “We need to get you out Billy”
I’ll spare you the details because I’m tired and need to go to bed, but we had 45 minutes of good time, and when I left Dad his eyes were stained red, with slowly forming tears. As the doors opened I heard the incoherent screaming of a man on the edge and the wheelchair was being pushed away from me, the small man inside shifting his head to try and look back, and then the doors shut in front of me.