Father’s Day

A face lined with grooves, the equivalent of the rings in a tree trunk, when he doesn’t move he looks as old an a gnarled oak. In motion, he is far more. He is alive. And however I feel when I look at him now, I must always remember that, because it could have been different.

He walks to the kitchen counter, swaying from side to side almost like waddling. A hand – dotted sparsely with liver-spots and landscaped by the prominent veins we share – gently uses the counter surface for balance. A few months earlier he needed his walking stick for balance, a couple of months before that, a frame. His movements are frail and unsteady, simple tasks have become more difficult. He can drive the car to the petrol station and fill the tank, but he sometimes cannot open the packaging of a loaf of bread. Tempers get frayed. Patience is tested and exceeded.

“He’s a little terror.” he proclaims excitedly as he stomps back into the house. I am baffled initially, realising seconds later he must have tottered outside, having seen the neighbour walking their puppy. It is one of the less frustrating comments of this kind. He will often voice his thoughts on the latest spending of Manchester City, but as if we were both watching the Sky Sports News segment and conversing about it. I was not, and try to piece together what he is talking about as best I can, because when he realises that I could not have known what he was talking about he is embarrassed, and a dark cloud approaches him for the next hour or so as he mutters to himself to think clearer. I curse myself for not having guessed to save his mood, not that there is much I can do without telepathy.

He is old and he is tired, but he is still here. His own impatience is bleeding into me, an unusual event compared to my very different level of patience. I feel he should continue to improve, but perhaps he has reached the limit his aged body can manage. His mind in particular may never be what it was. His strength first cracked when our dog passed away four years ago, but he is now more afraid than ever of his own death and what he has not done with his time on this planet. When he spoke of the will he was recently updating, the look in his eyes as he tried to put a jovial slant on what little he had to pass on was more upsetting than the last time I saw him weep. I want to tell him he should rejoice in victory over a form of cancer that many his age do not survive, but when I try to motivate him when something goes wrong – when he spills his drink or trips over his own feet – I cannot look him in the eyes because of the defeat I see there. I should not be so cowardly, he does not deserve it when he has come so far against such odds.

Today was father’s day, and I didn’t do anything special for him. I am ashamed of myself, but I hope that it is for simply being negligent. A troublesome voice at the back of my mind whispers to me that it’s because I cannot bear to face him in my stressed, frustrated state of mind. That I am afraid to accept what Myeloma did to him, what it took from us.

I miss my father, and he’s only upstairs.

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One Response to Father’s Day

  1. teacherface says:

    You write well, especially on topics that are difficult to tackle or read.
    I hope you’re still writing.

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