My Dad, the ‘character’, has had a bad year. Well, more than just one to be honest, but this one in particular. He’s seventy-two, so of course, things are beginning to break down and not work properly. Not a huge surprise, some might say, for a man who smoked from the age of fourteen, until his lung collapsed and he caught pneumonia almost nine years ago. Not surprising, some might say, for a man who ‘liked a drink’, until he almost broke himself falling down his stairs after a night out, round about the same time, nine years ago. It wasn’t so many months ago, that he had a heart scare, and various other illnesses and infections have followed. He’s alright in himself, but these things are happening, these things are real.
It appears that it’s all finally catching up with him, all at the same time, and also, that the statistics we get fed about certain bad habits shortening life by certain amounts of time, might actually be true. After all, he is only seventy-two. But see, that’s the thing. We see it, we read it, we say a lot of oohs and aahhhs, we grimace…….. and then carry on regardless. Because, death is what happens to other people, other very old people, very sick people, or very tragic people. La, la, la, not listening.
Simply getting progressively, and really rather quickly, decrepit, is maybe the saddest thing of all. Because it’s inevitable, and life will do, what life will do to your body and your mind. Death is the only thing we can be completely sure of in this life.
I don’t know how it must feel to face your own mortality. To know your time is running out. But it’s going to happen. How does that feel? It’s mindblowing.
What makes me write this blog post today, is that in recent months, my Dad has started reminiscing, and sadder than that; regretting things he did that he shouldn’t have, and not doing things that he should have. Which prompts me to think that he recognises himself, that maybe he’s on the slippery slope.
I try to convince my old man to make his peace with the rum choices he made along the way, because that is all there is to do. You can’t change the past, and it would be a terrible way to spend your remaining time on the planet, feeling nothing but disappointment and frustration.
Okay I get it, we are all getting older, if not in our minds, (I’m still my wrinkle-free, limber, eighteen year-old self), for sure physically. My knees hurt and my hips get stiff in cold weather. But when the inevitable appears to be knocking on your door, it’s a terrifying realisation. There is going to be, in the not-too-distant future, a Dad shaped hole in my life, and there is going to be a Mum shaped hole in my life, and the Aunty I grew up with, and the one on the other side of the world, and basically those people who helped shape me. Those people who I went to for help and advice, those people who I still go to for advice. And my heart will be broken. Many times.
That’s a lot of space to fill.