“You’re still here?” says Dad waking up from a drugged doze.
“You’re going to lose your bloody job,” he says, “You got to get out of here.”
I arrived at the hospital 4 days ago.
In need of a break, I go make a cup of tea.
A volunteer in the kitchen tells me what a privilege it is to be with someone you love when they’re dying. I hadn’t thought of it like that before.
She’s right. If I lived further away or had small children, a career of consequence, or a less generous husband, I would not still be here and I would not have built the relationship I have with my father.
“The doctor wants to talk to you,” says Mum.
I listen to Dad’s doctor tell me again how she doesn’t know how long the process will take and how these past days were the best time for me to have spent with Dad.
Mum has asked her to convince me to go back to work. She’s worried for me.
“Son of a bitch is trying to steal my daughter,” says Dad when Lynn arrives from the mainland to say goodbye.
Dad is angry like I’ve never seen him.
“Totally out of character,” says Mum.
“It’s probably the come down from the drugs,” says my stepdaughter, Zoe.
Dad has no experience with pain killers and the nurses gave him a double dose by accident. It’s been a rough day.
Though Dad loves Lynn and appreciates his help at the farm by nicknaming him Mr. Fix-It, it’s true that he will take me home with him for a few days so I can catch up at work.
The next morning, before I leave to the ferry, I visit Dad alone. I feed him water and small pieces of boiled egg. I paint his chapped lips with vaseline and sing him a favourite hymn:
This is my story, this is my song
Praising the saviour all the day long
“Sleep well Papa,” I say, not wanting to say goodbye.
“Where are you going?” he asks.
I slide his ring off his finger to keep him close while I’m gone.
“I’m getting some work done,” I say, “I’ll be back as soon as I can.”