If you’ve read our book then you will know that my father underwent tests for prostate cancer and dementia last autumn and that both tests came back borderline. In December he turned 90 and we celebrated in style with family and friends.
Eight weeks later everything changed. Cancer was confirmed. Vascular Dementia was confirmed. Pa started walking with a stick for the first time. He was fitted with a catheter: his first real need to visit a hospital for 70 years and it signalled the beginning of the end of his world and of ours.
Since then he has gone rapidly downhill. My trips to visit him and my mother have become more frequent and last longer. Two and a half weeks ago he went into hospital with delirium caused by a urine infection and soon turned yellow. Pancreatic cancer. So frail and confused they dare not send him home without carers in place. Now it seems he may be too frail to manage the steps in the house and so he stays in hospital, using a precious NHS bed. No longer able to read. No longer able to hold a conversation because his words come out skewed. No longer able to retain information.
“I’m not really ill, you know,” he said to nurse who was inserting yet another cannula yesterday ready for another investigative procedure.
She laughed fondly.
I am telling you this not because I want pity nor to wallow, but because now, more than maybe at any time in my life I need the solace that only writing can provide. Several times a day I think, I must write this to Terry Anne or I must write express this in a poem. Facebook is not the place to write these words. Confined to a small white rectangle of space nothing I could write could do justice to the love and pain I feel right now. Doing so would desecrate this experience.
Yesterday I met Carolyn for lunch and told her the news.
“You can write to me, Jo,” she said. “And I’ll reply.”
Even though she lives in the next town the value of this simple, now considered archaic act, would be ten times that of writing an email.
I’ll be back in England next time it’s my turn to write the next MMM so I am writing this in advance. But before then, I’m heading to the sofa with a coffee, a box of tissues and a pen and paper. She may only live next door but I’m going to write to Terry Anne.