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It was a mad dash and at the worst time. The afternoon early evening traffic was building and, in some places, was at a standstill.
The call had come a good half hour ago to get to the hospital as Dad was on his last leg.
It wasn’t unexpected, dad had been lingering for some weeks now, and with the onset of pneumonia, his end loomed before me as sooner rather than later.
Sitting in traffic, I wondered if I’d make it in time. I’d sat with him every afternoon this past week and only today had taken myself off to an important meeting to discuss Jack’s progress or more his lack of progress.
The meeting had not gone well and discovering Jack was way behind in so much of his schooling was a real worry.
Then as I returned to the car came the call from my sister Janice. Dad wasn’t expected to last the evening.
So now, as I was at the mercy of the ebbs and flows of city traffic, I had time to prepare myself. Dad had been an independent man until four years ago when a stroke took so much of that independence away.
The stroke changed him, he lost his confidence and was happy to defer to me when it came to decision making.
Time and age finally conspired against him, and he was in the nursing home, where I knew he was being looked after but from where there was always only one possible final destination.
When you are in a hurry, it’s funny how every traffic light seems to be red, delaying you, increasing your anxiety levels and causing the pain of abandonment to stab at you.
Finally, the home came into view, and the traffic cleared sufficiently to give me a final safe drive into the parking lot. I raced into the foyer and down the corridor to dad’s room to be greeted by my sister. Dad had gone.
I stood there, letting the news sink in, feeling empty, wondering what there was to do.
My sister led me into his room and there on the bed was a figure who was not my father. Even though the name above his head was his, the body before me was if a foreign entity had taken over the once vibrant man I knew as my father.
I sat and held his hand, still warm, as I had done this past week, told him I loved him and inside felt a sigh of relief, knowing his pain and misery was now over.