They say the sun always shines on the righteous. One way or another, of late, I’m beginning to feel increasingly like the Chilean miner they accidentally left behind! And now, I’ve fumbled around in my pockets, lit a match, and blinking into its shadowy light, there’s my dad slumped in the corner.
Today was a bit of a shock; even after yesterday. When I got to the hospital, my step-mother had made it in a few minutes before me. I’d last seen her after leaving him yesterday and was relatively upbeat, in terms of reassuring her that he was still in there. But now, we both sat in front of this man neither of us barely recognised; he still had moments of apparent lucidity, but it was a curious mix of references that seemed to be combining leaking memories, displacement and gallows humour. And on the outside, this shell of a man, now inescapably etched with the remnants of that uncontrollable fire. A man, quite literally, cut in two: the right side trying desperately to hold onto our memory of him; the left side taking on the appearance of a once much loved, but long since abandoned, home.
The stroke team have been excellent. And, Jo, exceptional. She gently took our slightly shell-shocked selves into a quiet room and sat patiently with us, explaining and fielding our scatter-gun questions as they randomly crowded out the tiny room. At the end, though, we were no longer under any illusions. He has suffered a ‘really big stroke’. And, protracted recovery notwithstanding, for a while, even with the medication on board, he remains at significant risk for another event and also the threat of pneumonia and other infections.
The recovery – if, when and how much of it comes – will be measured in weeks and months.
Today was their wedding anniversary. Are you still going out tonight? “Of course. We’re going out to the Upton Inn.” Are you going to drive? “Why not?”