What I Learnt From… My Dad This Fathers Day

I sent my mother a text this morning – “Any news?”

At 2am, my Dad had got a call from the hospital saying that he might want to go in.  It’s not the first call over the last three weeks that has made that suggestion.  My grandad is in there, and is very sick.  He has Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, and his body is giving up.  The combined diseases make everyone unable to see whether his mind still has the capacity to take on the fight for any reasonable time.

Dad is currently sat at the hospital with his mother.  The doctors are talking about diamorphine to help with Grandad’s breathing, but I think we’re all secretly hoping the same thing, that which can’t easily be spoken about outside of certain jurisdictions or other parts of the animal kingdom.

It’s not the easiest thing to hear your Dad tell you when he, in no uncertain terms, looks you in the eye and says, “If I ever get in to state where I have no idea what’s going on, you will do absolutely nothing to keep me alive.”

The Right To Die is a whole other debate, but this is the first time I’ve really noticed my Dad, a retired doctor, talk this way about personal mortality.  I’ve hear him talk about patients for whom his judgement would be that the best treatment is to let illness mercilessly maintain its grasp with as little pain as possible, until there is nothing left for it to drain.  I’ve had him comfort me as a kid when pets have died and he has always been there when friends and family have passed away.

Dad’s are, by and large, bullet proof.  Fathers Day cards maintain the sentiment that our dads like beer, watch sport and give us money – that their lives are about the finer things and their kids!  On this Fathers Day, if your father is still with you, don’t take for granted the sentiment of greeting cards or the purchase of beer.  He’s human.  Even if you can’t say it, let him know what he means to you and that you can also support him.

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