With a 5 eurocent coin and a 10 yen coin for the ferryman.
Sunday, 19 February 2012
Hospice volunteer worker Frans would be in with dad from 19:00 to 23:00 today, to give mum and Maya an evening off. When Frans arrived he went upstairs to say hello to dad, and opened the bedroom door to find dad sitting not on his hospital bed, but in the middle of the double bed. (It wasn't the first time in the last couple of days that dad had sneaked back into his own bed...) Dad had his legs folded underneath him and his back was as straight as can be. Frans was immensely astonished by this perfect 'lotus position'. When he told Galen about it later, Galen knew dad's legs hadn't actually been properly folded for it to be a lotus position. Despite that, Galen was also rather impressed. He told me that the way Frans had described it to him, Galen imagined dad to have a clarity and absolute serenity about him, and the way dad sat there in the middle of the bed, in the middle of the room, was much like dad would sit at the side of the mat during Aikido class, overseeing it all.
Frans went back downstairs to make a cup of tea for dad. He heard some stumbling about upstairs and at that moment, Galen came home. Galen corrected Frans' tea-making method before they both went upstairs to bring dad his tea. Dad was now sitting at the foot end of the double bed, with his feet on the floor. Frans had tried to explain to dad it might be a good idea to get back into the hospital bed. Apparently dad had eventually been persuaded and was on his way there. "Gaat de goeie kant op!" dad said. Whatever that meant... but Dutch it was!
Galen stood to one side of dad, Frans to dad's other side, each holding one of dad's hands to help him up. Frans started counting, "Eén, twee..." but then decided English might be better half way through, and started again, "One, two, three..." — and dad just stood up. No difficult pulling and pushing and hassle for 30 minutes before he was able to hold himself, no, just one, two, three, and up. Just like that. Dad crawled back into the hospital bed and started the mumbling game where he talked and talked and Galen was stuck trying to make clear to dad that he was incomprehensible, followed by more mumbling. Then suddenly dad sat up again. He wanted to go outside. Now. Frans explained that wouldn't be a very good idea. And besides, it would be a hell of a task to get dad down the stairs... But dad really wanted to go outside. He even said "Please," which made Galen feel bad. But no, going outside was really not an option.
Eventually dad lay back down into the bed. He started mumbling again—more urgently this time—wanting something. Galen deciphered that a word sounding like ship might mean drink, so he asked, "Ginger ale? Tomato juice?" and got a "Yes" back at tomato juice. So Galen got dad some tomato juice. Dad started breathing slightly quicker than he had been, which disconcerted Frans. Galen noticed Frans got a little nervous, as he started talking more and more, trying to calm dad down (or was it himself he was trying to calm down?) Galen held the tomato juice straw by dad's mouth, but dad wasn't able to close his mouth around it. Galen held dad's head steady with one hand and tried again. Frans' talking continued, until: "Shutup," dad said without opening his eyes. It wasn't exactly unmumbled, so Galen checked, "What was that, did you say 'shut up'?" "Yes." Then dad started drifting, shivering a little. Galen wondered if this was it. Or whether this was just sleep... or maybe the coma. "Ik geloof dat je vader nu naar de Hemel gaat..." Frans said. Galen thought that was a silly way to put it...
Galen still had one hand on the side of dad's head. He looked at dad—and was watching when the exact moment arrived that dad stopped moving, completely. Galen checked his watch: 19:47:50, February 19th, 2012. Dad had been lying still of course, but lying still is not as immobile as... an empty body is.
Bye, bye, daddy.