When he comes home

by Dan

Grey Cardboard boxes filled with an old man’s wee. Dad woz ere!

Still is! Laughing and joking.

You old devil- says mum - you’ll outlive the rest of us.

A middle aged Irish nurse in a faintly unhygienic looking cardi coughs into her hand. I sometimes think about all those Germs hanging in the air in hospitals however careful you are.

She talks to him like he’s a baby, - eat up all your sandwich now there’s a good boy!

He looks at it with an infant’s face of distaste.

They’ll keep him in for a few more days to make sure it’s all ok, then he’ll be home annoying mum as always. -Getting under her feet.

He’ll get another 95% of his self-respect back at home but that 5 will lost be permanently gone, like the 5 that left when he had to give up playing football, the 5 gone when he retired and the 5 he lost when he got demoted from the first team at bowls club. Given smaller things like the mugging and the time he wet himself on the way back from The Legion he’s probably on about of total 60% self-respect now. Still enough that it doesn’t show in his face unless you know him.

All in all not too bad for 75. But I have to remember to talk to him when he comes home, to remind him we haven’t forgotten he was a breadwinner and a good dad and someone to be respected and as children, even slightly feared. And to subtly convey, whilst still appearing to think of him as a demi-god, how proud I am that he has taken the reduction of circumstances with cheery good grace.

He’s got a cough but then he did smoke for most of his life. He’s alright though, he’s pretty happy all things considered and this heart thing apart, pretty healthy too.

We leave via four wrong turnings and the main concourse. The kid’s phones come out as we walk. Nikita by Elton John emanates from the Hospital Radio booth.

In the concourse we go into WHSmiths to buy quavers and a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Mum wanted them. No idea why. To eat probably.

Then we take her back to her house in Coryton and say we’ll collect her on Friday to pick him up.

When Friday comes we had a call about some minor complications, the cough is worse and you can’t be too careful.

They’re keeping him in over the weekend, nothing to worry about.

I speak to mum on the phone, we won’t visit this weekend but I’ll take the day off on Monday then I can pick her up on the way to collect him from The Heath. She’s fine.

So now it’s the Monday and these things have happened.

Johnson has announced a complete lockdown. Mum has to isolate for the foreseeable. The kids are trying to explain to her how to get on Houseparty. There’s nothing else to do for now. I’ll try to call him later but you know what old men are like on the phone.

Also, the hospital has said there are further complications and we can’t visit. Dad’s cough has got worse. They aren’t sure yet but yes, I reckon it might be that.