Thirteen years ago this week my father died. I was keeping a journal about him at the time, material which I later used in my novel Zuzu’s Petals. I had tried to publish the journal, but although publishers liked it, and said it was good enough to publish, it wasn’t marketable. I was not famous. I am still not famous, but I’ve been thinking about publishing it myself as an ebook. I thought I would post some entries here on my blog, as a start. Perhaps you’ll tell me if you would be interested in reading it all.
Wensleydale May 19th 2002
I slept in Pa's room at Kevock last night. I went to the nursing home at 8.30 to say goodbye to him, as I intended to go home for a few days, but he looked terrible. He was in a different room, and was lying in bed looking wild, and though he recognised me he couldn't say much. I sat with him and fed him a few of Kath’s raspberries with my fingers.
I spoke to the matron who said I should not go home, but stay. He had been struggling in the night and she had sat with him for some time. She said she knew the signs.
I asked if I should ring everyone and she said yes. Kath drove Ma up straight away.
The doctor came late morning and examined Pa, and told Ma he wanted a word with her. Matron signalled to me and to Kath to come out too. We all trooped down the long corridor to her office. The doctor sat opposite mother and leaned forward close to her, his head ducked down, his voice calm and serious, making close eye contact all the time, and he said "He's not going to get better. And it looks as though it's going to be fast."
Ma said "It's better if it's fast."
"And you don't need to worry -" said the doctor, "we'll make him comfortable. We won't let him be in any pain."
Jeny, my younger sister, drove up from Winchester in six hours and arrived in the afternoon. She brought a huge cool bag full of frozen meals for Ma that she’d prepared at home.
We sat with Pa all day - sometimes all of us, sometimes in twos or threes. I didn't want him to be alone. We got them to move his bed over to the window so that we could have chairs on both sides of his bed. Jonty and Rachel came in the afternoon and Jonty sat Pa up in the bed so that his lungs could drain. He also lit him a cigarette, and we fanned the smoke out of the window, though the matron had said she really didn't mind about his smoking.
Kath is staying with Pa tonight.