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Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Fathers and Son's Day

I thought of writing this post a few days ago and as Father's Day was approaching it seemed more relevant.

Lately, Linus has been having some minor problems getting to sleep and a little anxiety settling down. After putting him down he'll ask whichever one of us is there to stay a while. I've been trying to get it so he will be less anxious and allow us to leave earlier. In that respect I think we're getting back there.

On one of the more anxious nights I thought he had dropped off and was just starting to stand up, he turned his head around to make sure I wasn't leaving. In that moment he turned his head I saw my dad and was transported to a much sadder place, probably exactly ten years prior to that moment.

In 2005 my dad was seriously ill, having lost my mum and sister in the previous twelve months, there was just the two of us. He was in hospital most of the time from (I think) February until he died on his 70th birthday in August. Some days were better than others, some days he was awake and alert, others he was in what I would describe as mini comas, just sleeping for more than a day at a time.

When he was awake, I'd often try and see if I could get him to think of a future, he never could. When that failed I'd talk about other stuff, he'd ask about work, from what I remember I didn't get a great deal of time to do any but just about managed. I didn't really get much chance to do anything beyond eating and going to hospital, there was no way I was going to have a day when he'd be alone. After such a long time in hospital he ended up in a room of his own and I'd given up on any idea of when visiting hours were. I just turned up and the hospital staff were happy to let me, I was often the only one who could calm him down if he was anxious. His ill health had made his temperament volatile and it was a vicious circle. Often the hospital staff made it worse and spent hours trying to settle him, I could do it in a minute or two.

So, I'd sit by his bed, sometimes we'd talk, sometimes he'd sleep. Seeing him wake and be pleased to see me was somehow worth it. There was a smile and a flicker of life that was otherwise missing. Perhaps in the moment of just waking up there were no problems, my mum and sister were still alive and he was still fit and healthy. On the other side was sometimes him not wanting me to go. The irony was that he was hanging on to life because he didn't want me to be alone, yet he needed me more than I needed him. So, sometimes I would sit and wait until he fell asleep, occasionally I'd get up thinking he was asleep and he'd swiftly turn his head wanting me to stay a little bit longer. A swift turn of the head, my dad had probably seen me do the same when I was a little boy and didn't want him to leave. Then I saw it again at Linus' bedtime. Being there for my dad was an option I chose to accept, being there for Linus is an obligation I cherish.

I hope one day that Linus has a child he watches fall asleep. I hope he doesn't ever have to put himself in a position to watch me.


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