Monday, 30 November 2015

party and a full stop

Dad didn't want a funeral.  I'll be dead and I'll be gone and put me in a cardboard box and send me straight to the crematorium. We had a party instead (he's dead and he's gone and we can do whatever we damn well please).

It was the oddest day. We kept looking round for him amongst the guests, enjoying himself. It was exactly the kind of party he enjoyed - a casual bbq hosted at his house in the sunshine with relatives and friends and wine from that lovely local winery down the road that does the good platters. When I looked for him, I was startled each time to lay eyes on two of his nephews, in their late 30s/early 40s.  They look just like him.  

I didn't cry much during the party, except with one of Dad's sisters and his brother.  I wept after, with the realisation that I'd been to my father's fucking wake, that was it, he's never coming back again. Even now I expect him to walk in from the garage, or pull up on the tractor, or even be in the shitting hospital bed in the living room.  But he's past tense now and it is brutal, bald.

The dust from the party has settled.  W and I are the only guests remaining at my parents' house (my mother's house, singular possessive). We took back the party hire equipment yesterday and now what? It is raining. Life must start to go on without him, in the new era After Dad. 

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

the end

On a Monday, just before 5pm, I kissed Dad, told him I loved him and I'd see him soon. We left the hospice to bathe and put W to bed.

The phone rang. His breathing's changed, they said. We think you should come in.

I couldn't. 

W was asleep in bed. I knew what was likely to happen, but I couldn't bring myself to leave the baby with someone else, or to wake him and bring him with me and risk a meltdown at the hospice.  My sister K and my mother departed in a hurry. 

I sat in the window of Dad's house, watching the sun set over his favourite view, while he breathed his last. I wasn't with him when he died. But then, I don't think he was there either.  For all intents and purposes, he'd already gone.

I've missed him for months.  I'll miss him forever.

RHB, 2 October 1956 - 23 November 2015.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

no more

Mum forgot to take her cellphone to the hospice this morning. She called me at 11.30 when she came home for lunch, a little more composed.

Dad didn't recognise her.

He's not eating, barely drinking.  Sleeping, mostly.  Slipping closer to unconsciousness.

and I are on a plane tomorrow, 8 days after our last return.  There was still discussion of Dad coming home during that visit, at least for a while. I had doubts about the feasibility of that plan and knew that I would return sooner than the next trip arranged for 2 December.  I booked our flights yesterday, mostly out of worry for Mum. Even though I knew (I knew) things were ending, I didn't expect that call today.

It might be as long as a couple of weeks, they say.  

Mum thinks he's comfortable -- at least, he doesn't seem tense or anxious. I choose to believe that inside his head, where the tumour is growing and destroying his functioning, he is replaying happy memories. He and I spent a lot of time over these past 11 months reminiscing and laughing.  He has lived a good life.

I told him I loved him the last time I saw him and he knew it was true. He said I love you very much, too. 

Even if I could talk with him one last time, many more times, forever, it would never, ever be enough.

Monday, 16 November 2015


Editing my own writing is difficult. As you may be able to tell, I don't do a lot of it. I think it's what scares me most about a big word splurge-y post.  I feel like there's one of those welling up; I barely know where to begin. 

Presently Fink is on the floor, attempting to roll onto his front, sucking his fingers and making wee talking noises. Consummate multitasker, my son. I'm sitting on the couch next to him, benignly neglectful (at least I hope it's benign neglect, would be terrible were it malignant) and trying to work out what to write next. 

Now that I've started, it's easy.  Fink.

Finky is four months and two days old. He enjoys putting things in his mouth, wriggling, pooping at 5am to get out of bed, nappy changes, raspberries (both blowing and receiving), nakedness, baths and his parents' eyes on him at all times. He dislikes sleeping in, stopping at the lights in the car, the sun in his eyes and when I try to bite his fingernails (you think I'm going to use those scary ass baby nail clippers and take the top of a finger off?! Thank you very much but I'd prefer to leave my child intact!)

Personality: chill. I cannot believe I have such a relaxed baby.  I mean, neither his father nor I are particularly chill people.  In fact, I'd probably describe myself as fairly highly strung.  But Fink appears (touch wood) to have avoided that trait. He doesn't grizzle or cry that much, he goes to bed at a reasonable hour and goes back to sleep after night wake ups quite happily, wakes up chirpy and goes with the flow. Last week he spent a considerable amount of time hanging out at the hospice and having to travel/nap in his car seat -- he just chirped along chewing his toys and cuddling his mama/gran/grandad and making solemn faces at all the other hospice residents and staff. 

He's smiley with his family and people he knows, discernment only having arrived in he past couple of weeks). You have to work for a laugh but with a good arsenal of fart and animal noises, you'll get there.

W rolls from front to back but hasn't quite managed the opposite direction yet, though I'm sure it's not far away. He works harder on it if you take his nappy off.

Finky poops half way through all his morning feeds (the fink) which is getting pretty tedious. He thinks it's funny. He's now very distractible while feeding, having most definitely inherited his father's fear of missing out, leaving me flashing tit and lovely silicone nipple shield all over the place.  Yes, we're still using a shield -- he can latch, but is lazy as am I, and my boobs are often still so engorged it's far easier to get a nursing session underway with the shield.

He's tall. Somewhere around 70cm now.  At his last Plunket appointment he was at the top of the charts. He's becoming slightly leaner than the pudding he was originally but still has a nice fat head. We go back to Plunket in early December when I suspect he'll be in excess of 8kg, the wee dumpling.

His face is changing. I never thought he looked particularly like his father (though he has the M family face shape and hairline - wearing a cheesecutter he is his paternal grandfather to the life), but now he's better at tummy time I see a resemblance to a baby me - we have a picture of me on my tummy at four months, and my cheeks fall down my face in the same way W's do.  The eyes are similar too. There is no doubt he has his father's feet - he even self soothes using them in the way P has done into adulthood.

He is a delight.

november online

I am here, here I am. 

My technological issues are now sorted and I am back, bursting with so many words I hardly know where to begin.  

In brief:

- my son W is four months old. 
- my dad is still alive.  Just.

I think those are the most important things. My life revolves around W (or Fink, if you prefer. As in Rat Fink, the finky wee boy he is), trying to support Mum as best I can and spending time with Dad. 

Other, less important matters of note since we spoke last:

- postpartum is no joke. 
- P has taken to fatherhood like a pig in muck, no surprises there. He's a gem.
- I'm trying to write a select committee submission on the medically assisted suicide provisions of a new bill in Parliament. I want my lawyer self to do it, applying her reasoned and dispassionate mind, but my emotional self is a giant hindrance.
- Fink is adorable and I want to say so many trite things about motherhood and our relationship that have been said a million times before but oh! I didn't understand them before there was a Finky in my life! 
- Work, motherhood, parental leave: I've been thinking (yes, it hurt).

No doubt all of the above will be explored in days to come, now I've been enabled with access to this here blog and the means to write. Why yes, I've no doubt this blog will smack of tedious mumsiness, but it has always been more personal journal than anything else, so no surprises there. I mum, therefore I wax mumsical. It will also be mournful, I expect. 

I've missed this.