BUS. CHANGE BUS. HOSPITAL. Coffee and fake cake. Mother chatting with anyone she can find. Me: I just find an app on my phone and play the game. Time to go up to the ward. No, mother, it’s this way, remember? Lift with the gravelly voiced girl telling us what the lift is doing. Ward. Splash of foamy hand stuff. No, mother, he’s on the right… the right… the other right…
…and he’s fiddling with the pocket radio I bought him a few years ago.
Last week he looked… and now he’s bloody sitting in the chair again, actually doing something to try to entertain himself! Oh come on! Drop off fresh pyjamas and whatnot and greet the old fart… no, Dad, I’ve not been in jail, I told you last time. The bats are still alive, present and flapping up a brainstorm. After the meeting the other day, I nip to check things with the charge nurse, and he tells me of various things like the infection being treated with antibiotics and the meeting on Monday. Would I like to be there? You bet. I have all kinds of plans and ways to get this done… and I begin.
I mention the dehydration father was suffering when he got here and surely they’ve noticed; he stops me and holds his hand up… then tells me what I need to hear.
We’re meeting about which home would be the best one to transfer him to… oh no, not releasing him ‘home’… no, we can see that’s not viable.
Inside, I was Meg Ryan in the café scene in When Harry Met Sally. Outside, I nearly collapsed with orgasmic relief. It had to take as long as it had, it couldn’t have been rushed and I needed to nudge, guide and lead opinion. Over the last few weeks we’ve gone from arguing about whether the old man comes home or not to…
acknowledgement that he can’t.
And I want to skip and dance and tell my father that it’s going to be alright, we’re getting him out of here into a suitable setting – more comfortable place – and we’ll visit lots and longtime… but mother would pull the old-fashioned, ‘you’re putting him away,’ thing and when I return he looks up at me and demands I fill in the hole I just came through. Then he cries to, and with, my mother about his fears and boredom of being here and his loneliness… ahhh… nope. Can’t do this scene, sorry. I excuse myself to the nearest toilet.
Leave. Wait for bus. Bus. Change bus. Home. Debrief – and I tell my brother the news that I have… and ask him to let me do what I need to so we get things right. He agrees. Good – he’s out of the picture. A couple of messages to other relatives asking for instructions and trust; keep doing the voodoo you’re doing and just go right on ahead, come the answers.
Now, Father, I shall prove myself worthy. By my actions – and mine alone – will the best outcome be achieved (oh heck, that sounded a bit… wonk). Soon, your suffering ‘here’ will be over, and we will get you the therapy you need. Oh, and your teeth. I mean, eight weeks and they still haven’t found his false teeth.
Home. My home. Alone. I celebrate cautiously. It isn’t over yet, I still have this endgame to play… but… at least he isn’t going home to drain my mother and brother of their life force. It’s not about helplessness and guilt in the face of adversity. It’s about making my vulnerable father safe… and wherever this next step places him, it better be good.
Because… I’ll notice. This time, I’ll notice and act; fast and fearless. No one else will put him through what he accidentally went through at home. Restoration of dignity. And teeth. Did I say his false teeth never turned up?