Notepad on Life

March 22, 2010

Slow death

Filed under: Family,Old People — - @ 2:20 pm
Tags: , ,

Just back from five days with my parents.

Between the grim realisation that – more than 12 months on – this may be as far as my mother’s stroke is prepared to let go and my alienation in what was once a home but is now a regimented pressure-cooker of suppressed despair, I struggle to get my bearings.

In the inner debate of slow death, quick death, where parents are concerned, slow death still edges it. There is at least time for unspoken goodbyes that way, as you clear childhood belongings from forgotten drawers and reflect on the sound of your own voice from 40 years ago, while looking around the garden.

Time too, to accept the preparatory lurch in your life’s centre of gravity, as you realise that ‘family’ is starting to mean wife and children more than parents.

By the end of my stay, I have begun to adjust to the round of carers’ visits, relentless planning and an 88-year-old man who can no longer function without thinking aloud.

The only residual sadness as I head back to the station, is that he and I will never laugh together again. Not in a secure, carefree way. Routine dogs him now and any respite is fleeting. Everything but this I can rationalise, even the two-hour train journey that I used to call ‘leaving home’ but now regard as ‘going home’.

One more subtle shift in the pageant of slow death.

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