Friday, August 16, 2013
A dear old friend called me tonight on the cusp of my turning into a serious elder - my birthday is the 16th. She hesitated to tell me her news and then burst out with it. Her dad had died. A dad who was in his 97th year of life. A handsome dude who was a magnet for the ladies. Tall, elegant and he'd gallop through five miles a day as part of his constitutional. Until a couple of years ago when things started to slow down. But not his sharp mind. No, never that.
But. And I hesitated about writing this. But some things? A blogger just has to share. Especially if they've made you nearly throw up you've been laughing so very hard. I knew her dad and liked him. He played a mean game of cribbage. As mean as me. And enjoyed taking us out to dinner, one of us on each arm.
So her dad. I mentioned he was nearly 97? He had a really, really bad fall. It appears he was hanging up his trousers in his closet and lo and behold, he leaned back too far and fell backwards into his bathroom, cracking his head off the toilet while one of his ribs punctured a lung. A bit of a mess. So he lands in the hospital and my friend - I'll call her Susan - hears this story and something is not quite jelling with her. She knows the layout of his little suite in the seniors' residence and the closet is in the hall and the bathroom is around the corner from that just off his bedroom. A fall too far in other words. So she investigates. And ascertains that Kate is the one who reported that her father had fallen. So she goes to see her. Kate, Susan tells me, is power walking on the seniors' track in the shortest shorts Susan has ever seen on an 80 year old. Kate is embarrassed as she fumbles with the story. Won't meet Susan's eyes. Then Susan gets it.
Her dad was protecting Kate's honour. Sharp enough, gentlemanly enough to remember the reputation of his lady. So Dad decides he's going to leave now and refuses to eat and the doctors want to shove tubes down his throat but the family insists, it is his choice. Absolutely no tubes. So Dad arranges private farewells with all the family, his two surviving children, his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren. This took a couple of days. And then Susan slept beside his hospital bed for two nights holding his hand until he quietly tossed his mortal coil.
At the funeral, many older ladies came to Susan and told her they all loved to read to him, especially Kate. One of them would always read him to sleep every night after tucking him in. And sometimes in the afternoon too, Dad couldn't get enough of Kate's reading.
So now you know where we went with this right? Like I won't spell it out for you. But you can imagine how she and I savoured this, rolled with it, played with it, couldn't stop with the scenarios. Honked, screamed, slapped our thighs, snorted, ran out of breath. Tried. Oh, we tried to get sensible and serious and well, work up some wee bit of sads and grief. And failed. Again and again.
Oh, you handsome, wicked daredevil.
May we all crash out of life with such a, well, bang.