A few days ago, everything changed. After falling seven times in four days, we all knew something was wrong. The old sea-dog is strong as an ox but his body was failing him. One minute upright (ish), the next kissing the floor. Eventually, I called an ambulance and the paramedics, lads I know well, did various tests and made their decision. Now the big man is in hospital with a faulty heart and a pacemaker ahead. Meantime, he is being watched carefully, in a high dependency unit and things could go any which way whilst we all wait and wonder, as does he, although my last conversation with him made us laugh. He will NOT consider any hospital that doesn’t have Wifi. Well, I said, you had better inform the ambulance driver when he comes to uplift you to a bigger place, equipped for heart surgery. He said he would do that.
As we wait, we are all thinking, and all our thoughts will be our own, based on history, relationship and familial construct. I am peaceful here, and relieved he is where he needs to be, instead of on the floor under my feet. Those days were seriously cobbled and I was barefoot and running. Not a good combination. Not knowing what to do next is like the biggest ditherment ever. He says I’m not going to hospital. I say, yes you are, and that bumpy wrangle is exhausting. Kids arrive with worry lines across their faces and practical words in their mouths and everyone thinks a different think, has a different good idea whilst internally wetting their pants. I found myself carrying on. I swept and cleaned and washed and re-potted cuttings. I fed the birds and chopped the wood and watched the sun rise red over the mountain.
Now that he is in safe and professional hands, I am turning off the frenetic in me. The house is quiet, like a clock that has run down before Wednesday Wind Up, so that I suddenly hear the silence of it. In this silence I consider the cobbled road of our lives thus far. Almost 47 years of cobbles, some tripping us up, some smooth and warmed by sunshine, a long old road and I still see it up ahead of me, even if nobody knows whatwhat just now.
Although everyone says they don’t want to grow old, there is a peace in getting there. All those furious ‘discussions’ lose their grip and an acceptance glides in to the mix. It’s so much easier to live this way. Yes, the collapse of the body or the mind is messy and not pleasant for the collapsee but life is life and death is death and in between, we die just a little every day. The key is to live every day at the same time, to really live, no moaning. I haven’t managed that all the time, hands up, but by jings I understand it now.
I watch the children around this time of waiting and wondering and biting of fingernails. I notice my own feelings rise and fall. I remember my own dad in sickness, and in health, when he could take out a room with one roar whilst capturing all our hearts with his musical wit. The confusion around a parent is legion. Nobody escapes it. What it comes down to, what it must come down to is Love. The shoulds and woulds of history, relationship or familial turbulence are like a plague of mosquitos in a hurricane. The good times outweigh the bad times if we have the eyes for looking, even if we do spend inordinate amounts of critical energy on assessing each other. It’s natural.
The sun rises again. A high dependency unit winds into life once more. Decisions are made. Some leave in relief, some arrive in fear whilst starched and smiling nurses make a smooth running for all the hours yet to come. And here…….we wait beside the cobbled road.
‘You and I will be lost and found a thousand times along this cobbled road of us’ Atticus