Saturday, 18 February 2012

Do it

Galen spent last night and all day today with Sjoerd, his boys, and me. I took Galen home around nine in the evening, and went in just to say hello to dad. Galen had gone up ahead of me, so I found Galen in the room with dad, dad sitting upright, and Galen and dad having a (literally) meaningless 'conversation'. Galen sat down on the chair next to dad's bed after I came in, so I sat down on the foot of the double bed right next to dad's hospital bed. Dad was quite talkative, although Galen and I didn't understand most of what dad said. After a while Galen left, he was on his way out to a party. I took Galen's place in the chair, and sat in silence with dad for a while. Dad was staring, sort of through me, not quite looking me in the eyes. He grinned now and again when he seemed to recognise me, or maybe it was just something he'd thought of. After a while dad started talking.

"Can I lead... can I lead you... can I tell you something?"
"Of course..." And then there was silence. So I added, "What would you like to tell me?"
"Lots of things, quite quickly!"
"Okay..." and then dad mumbled quite a lot of things, quite quickly, but hardly anything of what he mumbled sounded like words. He interrupted himself now and again, dropped his head into a slow downward nod with a clear "Yes..." and then started the sentence again, just like he always has done. "I don't understand, dad... You're not saying words..." "Ah, we'll have to try that again then." he said, suddenly quite clearly. He tried to tell me again, but still I didn't follow.

Dad leaned back and pulled his blankets further over him. I sat down nearer to him, and dad held out his hand for mine. So I held his hand, and dad squeezed my hand firmly for a while. Then he gave me his other hand. At first I thought he wanted me to pull him into an upright sitting position, so I gave him my other hand. But dad just took my hand and moved it to the other side of his belly—which is extremely huge and round by now. I had to stand up to be able to hold both of dad's hands, his left in my left to the left of him, his right in my right to the right of him, crossed over his belly. Dad squeezed my hands some more and then put my right hand onto his chest, with his own hand on top, and stroked my hand a couple of times. He started telling me more things, and then said "I'm reaching... I'm reaching out." "Yeah." "Can you?" he said. "Yeah..." I held his shoulder with my right hand which dad had just let go of. "But can you reach? Who can you reach? Anyone?" Was he getting lost in what he was saying by word association? Or was this what he had meant in the first place? "Can you reach? Reach. Do it! Who can you reach? Galen? Martn. Reach them. Maya. Mum. But who else can you reach. All of them. Reach them. Do it." "But what do you mean dad? What should I reach them for?" "Do it!" "Okay, but for what? What do you want?" "Do it, do it now! Do it now!" Dad got quite intense, perhaps even fierce, and he also looked rather worried that I wasn't doing it. Whatever it was. "I want to dad, but I don't know exactly what you mean." "Just do it! Do it then!" "I don't understand, dad..." there was a pause, and then dad said, "Neither do I..." and then he laughed the way he does at the back of his throat, a kind of scraping noise originating from the sound of the letters K followed by a G, with his tongue behind his front teeth and a half-grin on his face. It made me laugh too, so I said, "You're fun. You're a fun dad." "Ah so you can." "I can what?" "You said bdaahr [something something] fun. So you can. I think you do it to everyone!" "What do I do to everyone?" "Make them fun!" It sounded like he meant I cause people to have fun (or that I make boring people more interesting?), but in hindsight, maybe he meant I always make fun of everyone (that might actually make more sense)... "Nice warm-up hand you have!" he squeezed my left hand again.

"Okay I'm stopping now," dad said after a bit, and let go of my hand to pull his blankets towards his chin. "Okay. Shall I put the bed down a bit?" "Yes!" So I lowered the sitting-up part of the bed and adjusted his blankets. Then dad waved at me slightly uncoordinatedly. "Night night!" he said. I bent over and kissed his cheek, and dad kissed mine, and then again, and again. Each time saying "Night night, bye, bye. This is bye." Dad then turned onto his right side—away from me—and struggled with getting his legs into position ("Legs in the way!"). He was also too close to the side of the bed. So I stayed with him until he had moved to the middle of the mattress and I was sure he was comfortable. I adjusted the blankets again, and then dad waved a clumsy bye-bye wave over his shoulder. I bent over and kissed his cheek bye bye, and dad said, "Night night. Night night, Maya..." "Night night, but I'm Tasmin." "Yes I'm not talking to you!" "Ah okay..." and then dad continued, getting mumblier and mumblier, "Night night, Sjoerd... tell him." "Okay, I will. Bye byeee" "Bye byeee" I slowly walked out and closed the door. Then I stood outside his bedroom for a while and listened to dad slowly fall asleep.

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