Monthly Archives: February 2011

Love, death and the garden

  Dad at 82
My dad, in July of 2009, when he was 82.

Another long interruption in blogging. Another death. My sister Susan died two and a half years ago. This December, on the Wednesday before Christmas, my father died.

Connie, my mother, had called me that Monday to report a sudden decline over the weekend: Friday Dad could walk a kilometer, over half a mile; Saturday he couldn't stand up.

On the phone, Connie and I went back and forth about whether I should fly out next day and decided it would be better to wait. More than likely Dad would linger on; more than likely there'd be greater need next week or next month. The staff at the nursing home, downstairs from Connie's apartment, had dozens of stories about residents who'd lived for months after such setbacks, and as far as Connie could tell, without eating. When Con had asked one of the most trusted nurses whether they should start palliative care, Amelia had laughed and said she didn't think it was time for that quite yet.

That was Friday. But on Saturday he couldn't stand. Amelia was off that weekend. When she came back on Monday evening, she was shocked. It was time, she told Connie. Time to start palliative care.

On Tuesday, Connie called me again to say that Dad was worse. I booked a flight for the next morning. He died while I was en route to Toronto.

Couldn't he have waited, just a few hours? But he didn't know I was coming. Couldn't I have taken a flight the day before? But I didn't know he was dying.

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