To build a wendy house

Just over a week ago my friend’s mum died, from Bowel Cancer, I wrote about it here. Today I’m going to a hospital appointment with my parents – Dad had a scan a couple weeks ago and blood tests last week, it is about three months since he was last at the hospital and he has been in shockingly good health since! He spent the royal wedding/easter/bank holiday fest and the couple weeks around it staying with my brother, building a home office shed thingy in his garden. He has returned home with a plan to build Libbie (my niece) a wendy house – in flat pack so when my sis and brother-in-law next move (army life and all that) they can take it with them. So he has a new project and with that a renewed zest for life – he is the epitome of the last post I wrote about him Before You Die – Live.

So, given all this, why am I so worried about today’s appointment? We’ve a good idea of what they’ll say – at least I think we do. I suspect Dad’s apple will have continued to rot (check the last blog post), that is his cancer will have spread further, not sure how much or how fast but we do know that there is no cure now and that he has secondary cancer. This we already know.

If I’m honest I think the thing that scares me is how fast things change, my experience of death from cancer is either that it’s a long slow steady decline, or it is really quick in the end. The truth is I would want the quick option for Dad, I absolutely would, I’d like nothing more than him to be fine one day and then a few days later to be writing a post here sharing the news of his death. My dad worked for over thirty years as a postman, he is fit and strong (if you ignore the cancer bit), capable and, well, manly I suppose – I don’t know that he’d cope with the challenges of old age particularly well, his body gradually declining, his ability to do and be who he is changing, I’m not sure he’d want that either.

My concern for today, if I have one, is that when faced with a picture of the reality – the xray images – he’ll fight the inevitable and opt for chemo – he has already turned it down once since hearing that he is terminally ill, he knows it would at best give him a couple extra months and at the moment he seems to be doing ok without it, but it’s the last (medical) tool he has available to him and I suspect he might explore the option further. I know my mum and I both feel he’s better off without chemo, but it’s obviously Dad’s choice and we’ll support whatever he decides, I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that he sticks with his PMA (positive mental attitude for the uninitiated) for now.

I was reading A.C.Grayling‘s thought on death recently, I liked lots of what he had to say, for now I’m just going to steal one pithy quote:

“Rather, it is that death comes too soon for most of us, before our interest in the world, and in those we care about, is exhausted”.

I know whatever we hear today that Dad is not ready for death just yet, his interest is far from exhausted…he still has a wendy house to build!

Photo (CC) by Alvynmcq on flickr

6 thoughts on “To build a wendy house

  1. You have all my thoughts with you for today. I don’t know if it helps or not but I can so recognise a lot of the thoughts and feelings you are expressing because I felt similar things myself when my father was having his treatment and when he stopped having his treatment. I remember the struggle because logically wanting him to have a dignified and ‘quick’ death but on the other hand, desperately not wanting him to go but even though I knew that was a selfish response, it was an emotional response. He also made a decision not to continue with treatment. Anyway, I don’t know if me rambling on helps much – and I don’t want to say ‘I know how it feels’ because I truly believe that we can never be aware of more than our own feelings but I do understand the difficulty and the pain that is involved in the death of someone you love very much and I’ll be thinking of you and your family and sending all the possible ‘virtual’ best wishes possible.

  2. My heart goes out to you, I lost my grandfather from cancer, he used to build custom homes for people, even during his last weeks he had no strength left after chemo but he still kept building, not houses but small wood tables and things. The way I see it he lived doing what he loved and even at the end his mind was with him right through.

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