Did I Make A Huge Mistake?



about mortality — probably a hidden Christmas theme?!

10th October. Dad returns from his walk and I hear him closing the toilet-window noisily from outside. No key turns in the lock. I open the front door, and he is lying with his head almost on the porch door-step, as if that hard cushion were the only thing and comfort he needed. “Don’t go,” I pleaded. “Don’t go.”

How can I describe the atmosphere that cold October evening with my father juddering, and rigid, fighting to regain consciousness, and death and the spectre of death whispering unkindly? Son talks to father after all the wasted years. Son begs father not to leave. Still so much to do to change if not to sweep away the barren years.

A neighbour arrived with a message for Dad. The neighbour looked embarrassed, stumbling upon such an emotional scene. Dad stirred and talked weakly. The ambulance arrived. “No, not hospital.” I looked at one of the guys with the stretcher. “It’s very serious, isn’t it?” He nodded, and looked strange as though this was it or as though I shouldn’t need too much convincing. Take a look at this old guy, his look seemed to say. What do you think, for Christ’s sake? How do you reckon it’ll go? How many days has he got left?

Did I make a huge mistake? I wanted to repair something. “You’d better go, Dad. Just for a check-up,” I lied.

The next day I saw him before he saw me. He was sitting in a chair next to his bed. Head down. Depressed. Weak. Thinking. A strong, belligerent, frail guy contemplating mortality, his own.

October 2008, and Dad was ninety-one.

From "Collected Selected Words", Chapter 5

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