I fly out to see my father today. He has dementia now, more or less all the time. He used to be good in the mornings, but he’s got no good reason to keep a clear grasp of a world that doesn’t have his wife in it.
But my sister told me that in one of his clearer moods he said he’s going to die soon. Of course, that doesn’t mean that he will, but you never know. So I’ve made a booking and I’m going to see him.
He’ll know who I am, I’m pretty sure, even with his marbles gone, and I expect he’ll enjoy the visit. There are some stories he likes to tell, and I only have to drop a couple of key words and he’ll launch onto them. Having forgotten how many times he’s told them before.
And that will be fine. He’ll tell a story, he’ll fall asleep, and he’ll wake up with a shock and find that I’m there. So he’ll enjoy my being there, while I’m there.
But mostly it’s for me, because I know that the next day he’ll have forgotten. But I need to see him before he dies, if he’s going to. No real reason. I’ve said good byes, and I suspect I won’t grieve much when he does die, because he’s already mostly gone. And he wants to be dead. He’s not in pain or unhappy, but he thinks he’s done and should rest. He’s done everything he needs to do, in his own estimation and mine.
But we are what we are, and we need to mark these things by meeting.
One thing, though. I still don’t know whether or not I have cancer. But I’m not going to talk about it with Dad, because he doesn’t need to worry about that. He wants to die knowing that his children are all all right.
So I won’t talk about cancer, partly because I don’t know whether I’ve got it. And he won’t talk about dementia, because he definitely doesn’t know that he’s got that.