Ghosts Part 2
My Dad was always falling out of bed! Sometimes the dog pushed him out and sometimes he simply turned over a little too far in his sleep and…doink! He could just about feel his legs but, he could not weight bare in any way. He could get onto the commode himself and from his wheelchair to the bed was ok but, there was generally a struggle each day. Once, he was so determined to come to the next level of the house and look out of our fire escape window at the gardens next door, that he tried to drag himself up the stairs like a merman. I was fuming with him that day! He got half way up and then slid to the bottom like a sausage. He thought it was hysterical (as he did most things) I, on the other hand was furious with him for taking such a risk to his already crumbled spine: I slammed doors and called him a ‘Bloody, Pissing idiot’! Again, he thought it was hysterical.
When my Dad was in hospital, I had some help to get the downstairs ready for him coming home. We were lucky enough to live in a large town house which used to be flats so everything was pretty much self contained for him. He had a bedroom downstairs next to the living room and a bathroom where I could empty the luminous green wee from his catheter bag.We built slight ramps so he could easily wheel from room to room.The house being so old, there were tiny drops into each downstairs room. Dad could pick up things with his special ‘claw’ which helped him grip and lift things that were slightly out of his reach. Mostly, he would use it to pinch my bottom when I was getting something for him or lifting the cats tail while giggling and singing ‘Pixxxeeelina’. Some utter bastard who drove like a numpty ran over my Pixxee after my Dad had died. I was devastated to lose that connection.
It sounds completely bonkers but, there are nights when I am feeling really sad that I will close my eyes and hold out my open hand, in the anticipation that my Dad would hold it: even if just for a second. Some times I beg him to do it or to come and sit on the end of my bed so that I know he’s there, that he misses me in the way I miss him. That he still thinks of me as I do of him and if he is proud of me at all. In reality, if he did come back to me, he would probably just pinch my bum again with that bloody claw!!
There were some nights that I would stay away and although I worried about leaving my Dad, I needed a release sometimes. He had nurses come in and help him also. I loved my dad with every single ounce of my being but, sometimes the pressure of looking after him was too much and I needed to escape. I was happy for it to be just the two of us but, it did make me feel very negatively towards a lot of people who I felt had forgotten us. Something I am still working through!
My Dad’s prognosis was very bleak right from the beginning. He was given months because his Cancer was discovered so late and was extremely aggressive.He was a right stubborn old sod and he died almost four years later (even after Merman and slippery sausage incidents) He waited until I was married so he knew I would not be alone and he died five weeks after that.
Only weeks before, something happened which should have forewarned us. I often wondered if it was a consious forewarning for my Dad. He would never have dreamed of admitting that to me, never. In the same way he would never admit about the baby in our previous house. But, it has always left me wondering. This is what happened:
I had been away overnight at my in laws and was returning as I usually did if I had stayed out,around late morning.The image of my Dad in his chair is one that I will never forget. He was sat in the living room watching the television and as his head turned to look at me coming in the front door, he turned ashen. My Dad carried a lot of expression in his face but, this day it was one of confusion and terror. There was a split second where I contemplated that the Cancer had spread to his brain and perhaps he had no idea who this intruder was. ‘Shu’?…..’You haven’t just come home?’ ‘You came home last night’. I hadn’t.
My Dad went on to explain that just as he was drifting off to sleep he was aware I was home. He said he had not heard me come in the front door but had seen me furtling around in the landing (I did and still do furtle an awful lot) and had called out to me to see what I was up to. I had walked to the entrance of his bedroom and stood in his doorway for a couple of minutes without speaking and then simply turned around and walked away. Of course, I say me, but it wasn’t me, I was 17 miles away watching trashy TV and no doubt drinking wine. My dad said there was no doubt in his mind that he was seeing a person, a solid entity (what he thought was me) that he had called out and asked me to get him a drink. We made a joke of it of course and japed that it would have been more than a little unsettling if whatever or whoever that was that night had actually brought him a drink.
This has always been a comfort to me, not frightening in any way but it is something I will take with me to my own grave and I will always wonder who exactly it was that came to collect my Dad. Dad didn’t have much time to worry about it as whoever it was accompanied him to the next world shortly after. I hope someone comes for me too when I am ready to go. I will have that drink though: Pinot Grigio naturally!