20160615 Sleeping your life away

My friend, Nigel, never moans about the shit in his life. He always sees the fun stuff, and as my readers will know, I have often leaned on his stories of how he has found laughter when things go wrong.

For the last two or three years, while he has continued to have "adventures," his life has been tainted by circumstances in which there was no humour.

Physically, his parents aged badly. Over the years, they had many major joints replaced and it was an infection, developed many years after one such surgery, that began the long decline for my friend's mother. As she became more and more ill, she became more and more difficult to deal with, physically and psychologically. My friend's father tended to her, to extraordinary lengths, for several years.

When she died, my friend's father blossomed. Then he was diagnosed as suffering from an extremely rare cancer. It grew like gnarls on a tree trunk and ate at his leg causing extreme pain. It was inoperable, untreatable and terminal. But the cancer didn't kill him: his immune system weakened, he suffered a major infection.

The combination of opiates and opioids for the pain and heavy doses of antibiotics caused a general weakening of his system and affected his heart.

It was clear that he would not be safe at home and so he moved to an excellent care facility where he was extremely happy for the last months of his life.

He deteriorated in stages, at each step fighting back a little, making sure that his quality of life was compromised as little as possible. He fought against the detrimental effects of the painkillers and reduced them as much as he was able. He refused to let them steal his mind and physical abilities.

He bought an electric wheelchair, which he promptly took off-road and overturned, laughing about how much fun he'd had and how he might have been hurt more if he hadn't fallen on his tummy. With minor facial injuries, he couldn't help but laugh at his self-inflicted injuries.

Now I know where my friend gets his habit at laughing at his misfortunes.

Recently, as the drugs poisoned him, my friend's father, took a couple of major steps down and he fell into a deep sleep. My friend spend days and nights by his bedside and, later, split duties with his brother. Their father did not so much die as simply stop being alive.

My friend's father was incredibly brave, quietly but strongly romantic. At his birthday, just three weeks before his death, he showed emotion that he usually suppressed. "It's hard being so alone," he said. "I miss Mum."

RIP, Roy. And thank you for all you did for me over the years. You, and Mary, made my life better and my words can never repay that.

This, readers, is what my friend has written for his father. It's his copyright and he says I can copy it here. Share his page at http://www.countermoneylaundering.com/public/content/my-father if you want to pass it on.

Sleeping Your Life Away

Sitting by your bedside
Day after day
Watching you closely
Sleeping your life away

So many of my memories
Where I had lots of fun
Where laughter was rife
You were there, in my life

And now as we come
To the end of your time
As the drugs ease your pain
There is laughter again

We've been able to talk
Of all those old times
Of the trips that we took
Of the things that we made

You laughed at me then
And you laughed at me now
And I laughed at you
And the things you still do.

But now it's all over
You fell into sleep
For one day, and night
Play and repeat

There was nothing for me
That I could do now for you
Except hold you and talk
Of things we would do.

And now it's all over
You've gone from this world
A life that had closed here
In another unfurled.

I add to the lifetime
Of things that we did
That when the time came
We had one last thing.

I was

Sitting by your bedside
Day after day
Watching you closely
Sleeping your life away


Text © 2016 Jefferson Galt
Poem © 2016 Nigel Morris-Cotterill
All rights reserved.