If I\’ve done this right this post will be appear 1 year to the minute since Dad died.
If you\’re familiar with Auden (or more likely – Four Weddings and a Funeral) you\’ll know of the poem Funeral Blues [discussed (but not reproduced) at Wikipedia] by W H Auden, it starts with the famous words \”Stop the clocks\”. It is (so I hope) legally reproduced here: Funeral Blues
Well, the day before Dad died was a Friday, and that\’s the day I wind the clock in my office. I\’ve even a repeat appointment in my diary to remind me (you\’d think I\’d remember!). But on this Friday I\’d spent most of the day at the Hospice with Dad, although (to be honest), he wasn\’t really with it any longer. I got a few moments of conversation with him, but the morphine and other drugs were by now leaving him largely asleep or detached from the outside world. Still, it was good, and right, to be there.
However, towards the end of the afternoon, I returned home as we had a long standing dinner engagement with some friends (who, having been through this recently would be able to a) pass on their experience, and b) provide something different from the last week whilst Dad had been at the Hospice). During the meal, I turned my phone to silent (I cannot bear phone calls in restaurants) and enjoyed their company. However, after coffee was ordered I looked at my phone and saw I\’d missed a couple of calls.
I went outside to check them, and they were from the my family at the Hospice – they were visiting Dad and things seemed to be getting worse.
We quickly abandoned further plans for the evening, and I took the car and rushed down to be there. Dad was more poorly, but (sort of) stable. For hours we stayed, talked, and tried to decide what to do. In the end, two of us stayed over and slept in the lounge area, to be close. With very clear instructions to be woken if anything should change.
In the morning, things were pretty much the same, and we spent the day waiting to see how things would develop. I suspected (although I could not confirm it until over a week later), that during the morning Dad was placed on the LCP (Liverpool Care Pathway). His condition deteriorated with almost imperceptible progress.
During the afternoon, suspecting I\’d be spending a further night there, I called my wife, and arranged to meet midway to pick up a bag of clothes and so on, so that I could feel a little more human. And then returned to the Hospice.
That evening we took dinner in shifts, so that someone would always be there, and as the evening wore on, I decided to stay down there again. As we were making arrangments, and sorting things out, we were called back to Dad\’s room with some urgency. At 22:01 he died.
Over the next few days we did what you do, but eventually I had to return to the office to sort out some work stuff and there I discovered, that having forgotten to wind my office clock, it had stopped about 1 hour before Dad died. For some reason I wasn\’t eager to start it. No psychobabble, or soft hippy sentiment here, just plain didn\’t want to. Only a few days later I recalled the poem.
Over the coming months, nothing changed. But a year on, it\’s time to move on a further step into the \”new normal\”. About now, I will wind the clock, think of Dad, and remember.