Monday, September 07, 2009

Flesh of my Flesh

The thought started reading this:

"Ferraby loved everything to do with being a father, from wheeling the pram out in the afternoons to preparing a bath at the exact temperature: even to be woken up in the middle of the night was an acceptable part of fatherhood, establishing his connection firmly. But most of all he liked simply to be with the child, watching her, talking to her, feeling her minute fingers curling around his own. He felt no need for any more exciting hind of activity, these days; he whole leave was passing in this simple and tender fashion, and he would have chosen nothing else. "
The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat

This stuck a sudden cord - not by the whole part which is poor Ferraby losing it and unable to stop himself having waking nightmares of sinking - but the besotted father, not wishing to hold anything but the flesh of his flesh close.

And that made me remember my grandfather lying in a hospital bed, in a gown designed to rob you of any dignity. Flesh of my flesh, his shoulder and arm despite being that of a ninety year old man, could have been mine- same broad shoulders, freckled skin, long forearm.

The stroke had robbed him of most of his speech and will. He lay mostly in the bed, move open eyes close, seemingly unaware of the world.

And he would not eat.

I ended up at one point feeding him baby food -combined with selective swearing this finally seemed to trigger his appetite. Then the hospital were persuaded to puree his food. Then, he finally started eating for them. He was like a large baby in the end; waking up at odd hours, making inappropriate noise and needed cleaning and helping with basic functions of bladder and bowl.

And it was not much fun at all. But then we had the only hope of him returning to being the cantankerous, casually racist, misogynistic bastard he was before where as a baby will, always of course, turn into someone great/good/worthwhile. Even a potential baby is invested with so much hope.

Alas I do stir the cup of bitterness I have prepared myself - the child we, I, would have had would have been three now.

And my grandfather - he was released, expelled more accurately, from hospital and the family found him a good -ish care home. As good as any can be expected really. And I left the fighting to get him to recover, to live to others for a few weeks, while I lived a bit of my own life. And in that short time he went and died. Maybe because I was away, maybe it was just time. No one aside from my grandmother seemed overly upset - he was just old. I felt guilty I was not more upset. And I had looked away. Flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood but I cannot say, due to character traits lain out above, we were at all close. Which makes it worse.

"Il y en a toujours l'un qui baise, et l'un qui tourne la joue"
There's always one who kisses and one who turns the cheek

Again the Cruel Sea; though it is a French proverb I think.

I am childless and age creeps up on me - I fear I will be childless and alone come my end, or at least not much loved like my Grandfather. Perhaps that is what I must face.

Some things do not turn out how you want, no matter how hard wished for or worked for and some do.

Cynical experience over my hopeful heart says; "Life is not fair. At best she is impartial. At worst, downright vindictive."

All you can do is brave the Cruel Sea and roll with the waves and storms.