The Father

I’m not going to talk about the new film with Anthony Hopkins, where we see the effects of Alzheimer’s on an elderly man.  No, I am going to talk a little bit about my own father, as everyone in the family knows, is destined for the Sainthood.  I have been made to swear by my mother not to talk about private lives of family members, so I will try not to give too much away.

I phoned my parents on Friday and everything was great at home, my mother going out to play golf, and my father going out to play bridge with the boys.  I said I would phone them later during the week. I hear people complaining that they haven’t seen their parents for x months over COVID.  I haven’t seen my parents since August 2019, so please, for the love of God, stop complaining and count your blessings!

On Tuesday night, after work, I called home.  My mother answered the saying how they had had a bit of an“eventful weekend”, and that my father had had a heart attack.  So having stolen my father’s thunder, she said she would pass him over; John do have the phone upstairs?  He did, and we started  talking.

As you may know, I live in France, and I don’t think I’m giving too much away saying that my parents live in the UK.  In some respects it could be on the other side of the world, seeing as how we can’t see each other.  But over lockdown we have “heard” each other.  But what about the now ubiquitous “Zoom” meeting I hear you saying.  You can “see” each other with that.  My mother, bless her, is a technophobe and zoom is something from the realm of science-fiction. 

So, I was allowed to talk to my now thunderless father, and asked, what did I just hear?  Have you been trying to be interesting again?  I was given the low-down and got all the medical details.  I still don’t get it.  He was a high level athlete as a young man, not a huge drinker, nor a total abstainer, we seem to mistrust them.  He is not what one could call a “big lad” as I am.  He eats very healthily.  It was just bad luck, and blocked arteries.

It’s the kind of situation that puts you right up against your own mortality, and I have friends of my age who have lost their parents, and not in the fishing aisle in the sports shop. I am constantly aware of how far I am and how helpless that makes me feel. I love both my parents with all my heart, and dread “that” phonecall and hoping that althought enevitable, I will never have to face it. I asked as politely as I could if he could possibly refrain from dying please, until I actually manage to get over to the UK for my next visit, next summer.  He said he would try and I hung up, knowing that everything was fine with him.  It was as if the weekend had been less eventful, verging on the boring.  But it does give you a bit of a scare.  It’s not always nice living so far away.

Post Scriptum

Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

A certain Ben Franklin

The envibility of death is ompnipresent in our world, some being closer to it than others. Do I want to die? Not really. Am I ready to die? As a Catholic I woud prefer to get to confession first. Some see death as a deliverence, and I think it was Voltaire who said, “The man who, in a fit of melancholy, kills himself today, would have wished to live had he waited a week.” I think he also said it was the only real way to say Merde, to God. Death is part of life and I think not to be feared. But I would prefer that certain people would hang around for a little longer so they can share even more of their wisdom, their sense of justice, and above all, their love!

 

The first morning in Edinburgh

It was that time of the month. The month of December that is. In between Christmas and the New Year. Those days where you’re in food limbo and don’t know what day it is..

Let me explain… Last Summer we went on our annual visit to see my parents in Northumberland. My son was working at the time and couldn’t come with us. My daughter had her two parents all to herself.

Towards the middle of Autumn, my father was in hospital and we we’re all very worried. I hadn’t received “the” call to come home but I was in a bit of a state about the whole thing. Wanting to spend time with him etc, and during Autumn and Winter I tend to get very homesick. My parents were about to go on a cruise over Christmas and the doctors said that he couldn’t go, as they “wanted to keep an eye on him.” As it turned out, he didn’t have pancreatic cancer, and just need his heart medication changing. But I felt so crappy living miles away and not being able to do anything, and failing completely as a dutiful son.

I had once jokingly said, “You know I’m capable of coming over to see you.” To which he replied, “You are capable of many things!” Well that had stayed in my mind, and as Autumn turned into Winter I decided that my son and I would go and see both my parents. We decided on staying in Edinburgh, and we could take the train down and see them. All this to explain what the heck I was doing in Scotland.

I got the poor bugger out of bed before the crack of down, and headed down for breakfast. Not just an ordinary breakfast. Oh no. We don’t do Ordinary. I had the full Scottish breakfast and as I was piling up the sausage, haggis, baked beans, roast potatoes, bacon, mushrooms, and the obligatory HP Sauce onto plate one, I could hear my heart saying something that rhymes with “Oh Clucking Bell!” Funnily enough, it had given up when I got the toast and blackcurrant jam, and the natural Greek yogourt, with cornflakes and red fruit. Gotta stay healthy folks! And Tea. Proper tea. I mean the tea that just gives you a cuddle as you drink it. not this French “infusion” rubbish that looks like something the cat did when it was upset with you. Oh no. None of that. I was home!

Right, now to the geeky bit about what camera I was using. As we only had hand luggage I decided to leave the DSLR at home and only take the Fuji X100F. It’s a great little camera and a joy to shoot with. Between you and me, I actually think it’s my favourite camera. A bit needy in the battery department, if you know what I mean… But I take spares with me.