By the beginning of May last year, my father was rapidly sinking, and seemed to be in obvious distress, breathing with difficulty despite our keeping him on oxygen for much of the time. I called in his physician, who examined him, and gave him just another forty-eight hours to live. He also prescribed a morphine patch, to ease the acute discomfort. I called my sister, who flew in the next morning.
On the afternoon of the 4th, which was the second day, a close friend came to visit. The three of us were chatting, having tea, and exchanging our rather sombre thoughts, when we were all jolted by a mighty roar from my usually soft-spoken father. He'd woken up from a nightmare in which the home nurse was apparently trying to poison him. He said he didn't mind dying, but refused to be murdered!
I somehow managed to soothe him, explaining to him that it was just a bad dream, and that the home nurse was the last person who would murder him, because she was attached both to him and to our household, and that both the day nurse and the night nurse would be bereft and without work for a while at least if anything happened to him. His doctor came to see him, and thought that this recovery was nothing less than a miracle. I seriously wonder if this bonus month was God's gift to the home nurses, who seemed to be very attached to our family, and especially to Daddy. My sister and I were, somehow, resigned to his inevitable departure- once Mummy was gone, we could see that he had completely lost his will to live.
As it happened, Dad's doctor went away for a couple of weeks towards the end of May. I consulted him once over the phone. Somewhere within me, I knew that he would not see my father again.