Wednesday 18th July 2012 – The phone call.

My father called me that afternoon as I made my way to meet a friend for dinner. It was two days since we had last spoken and I was wary when answering the phone. We were not back to having regular contact and I was worried that getting in touch on the 16th was the wrong decision.

As I was on the bus, he told me he had been rushed to hospital the previous night. My heart sank. My memories of him being in hospital had never been good. I began to worry of what he may expect from me.

He said it was serious and again my heart dropped. Now I had to deal with the fact that it wasn’t a prostate problem or a torn ligament, my father may actually be seriously ill. It was a lot to take in so quickly. The doctors at the hospital, after numerous tests, had come to the conclusion that his suffering was either Tuberculosis or Lung Cancer. Both sounded horrific and both petrified me. More tests were needed to determine what it actually was. As I took in the magnitude of the situation, I asked him how he got to the hospital. He explained how he had called an ambulance in the night when realising he could not breathe.

I could not believe it. Three years back when I had my Asthma attack, he refused to call me an ambulance! My life was clearly not as important as his.

He began listing orders:

  • I was to come the next day and bring him a set of clothes including underwear
  • He needed all his bank cards
  • I had to bring his mobile phone
  • David or I needed to check the house to make sure it was okay.

Many other things were said but I had stopped listening. I did not want this role he was forcing on me. I had not talked to him for two weeks because he had told me never to speak to him again. He condemned me as a daughter and now he expected me to take care of him and the house, that it all gets forgotten just because he is ill. Is that selfish? Is that evil? Yes, it probably is but I was working so hard to break free, to cut all the emotional ties and feel secure and strong. This was the worst thing that could’ve happened.

I told him it would be impossible to come the next day. He said he would’ve asked my sister but she wouldn’t return from Norfolk until Friday. I had to do it. Of course, I wasn’t surprised she knew his state before me. I barely knew anything about my father any more. I reminded him that I had a job to do and that it was a very important week at work. He muttered angrily down the phone, scolding me for being so insensitive. I told him I would come on Friday too as I was working a half day. It was just about enough to pacify him.

Monday 16th July 2012 – Shock.

I did not speak to my father for two weeks after our altercation in the car so I decided to ring him to see how he was. Two weeks was a long time for me to stay out of his life. It took a lot of courage to call but it was the right thing to do.

He did not bring up the previous incident in our phone call. Again, he seemed quite pleasant on the phone. I could not fall into his kindness trap again so I remained on my guard. He took me by surprise when he told me that due to his ill condition that week, he had been unable to go on a planned holiday to Norfolk with my sister and her family. Shocked could not even amount to the way I felt by his news. I thought they were building back their relationship, I assumed it would take her longer than two years to welcome him back so quickly into the arms of the people that once detested him so much. Her hate for him was once so clear, she even punished me for my choice to live with him all those years ago and I could not comprehend how she could so easily forget. But after a little thought, it made sense. Neither of them could cope alone, they desperately needed each other to feel secure.

He continued to say his COPD had worsened and how the doctors were all useless, shoving him to one side. I felt sorry for him, he did not deserve it, and as much as I hated the man I never wished him the same suffering he wished me. He told me to visit soon and I agreed to do so, even if I had no intention on keeping that promise.

Little did I know that I’d be seeing him much sooner than I thought.