Tonight I spent an hour or so with my dad.
He is in a very bad way. His lungs are rattling like I don’t know what. He is incapable of speech. He looked at me and tried to speak, but I could only guess what he was trying to say.
He had been wearing an oxygen mask, but had taken it off. The nurses told me that he kept doing that. I spoke to him and he responded with his eyes – I know he understood me – but was unable to make an intelligible response. I watched him with the oxygen mask. He had pulled it off, but kept it in his hand. It suddenly dawned on me – he didn’t want it on all the time, but he did every so often. I took over here. I held the mask to his face, and every so often he would pull it away. At certain times he would release the tube, I asked him if he wanted the mask again, he would nod, so I would hold it to is face. When he had had enough, he would pull he mask away again. We kept up this unspoken dialogue for quite a long time.
I took a break and spoke to one of the nurses, explaining to her about Dad’s sister, who died yesterday. I told her that we didn’t want to tell him, because he has got enough on his plate. If I’m wrong, they will meet on a cloud somewhere soon and can have their own private celestial argument. If I’m right it won’t matter a damn. I went back in to his side-ward and continued our game of hide-and-seek with the oxygen mask.
At one point he lifted his left arm and pointed to the clock. I told him it was 7.15. He seemed satisfied. I told him that our Rohloff rear wheel had been delivered to Bridgewater and that they were going to fix it soon. I don’t think he cared very much. The be-all-and-end-all of his existence is access to that oxygen mask.
I asked him if he was in pain. He nodded. Was it his head? He nodded. The nurse came in and administered paracetemol par rectum. He winced. Why don’t they just add it to his drip? Or do the doctors prescribe it like that just for the awkward patients?
At about 7.55 I asked him if he wanted me to go. He nodded. I was very glad to get out of there. Please let him die in the night.