Walking through the picturesque village of Port Sunlight on the Wirral, I noticed a well-dressed elderly man wearing a suit and tie, plus waistcoat and jacket, he was also walking his dog, this image portrayed a proud man, still enjoying life in beautiful surroundings, but today, I am visiting my terminally ill father, this historic village serves only to remind me of decreasing life.
My father is now very frail and at 74, is almost unrecognisable, even from 5 years ago when he would regularly drive his little car to Crosby with his friends or go to garden centres, an opportunity to leave the house and enjoy his retirement. But 5 years ago, my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I distinctly remember at the time the nurse commented “you are more likely to die of old age”, but 74 isn’t old. 74 is the new 60, or even younger. My father has received all the usual treatments, particularly chemotherapy, which side-lined him for weeks at a time, resulting in a lack of appetite and eventually rapid weight loss. A few weeks ago, not long after my father was informed he was not allowed to drive any more, the consultants at the Linda McCartney centre in Liverpool, informed my six and a half stone father, that he wasn’t going to receive any more treatment for his cancer, another devastating blow, not entirely unexpected, but weakened his mental state rapidly.
Today, my father sits alone in his room in the nursing home in Port Sunlight, becoming more forgetful and confused, I don’t know if he is waiting to die, but the life is slowly fading from his weak body and fragile mind, a process that my father would rather increase quickly in my opinion. Visiting with me today was my father’s cousin, who could not restrain her tears once my father had left his room, the tears continued over a cup of tea in a small but quaint cafe opposite the train station and that is the grieving process regarding cancer.
Grief arrives in stages, from the initial confirmation that you have cancer, that chemotherapy has not been successful, being diagnosed as terminally ill and going to a nursing home because you are unable to care for yourself, then becoming forgetful and confused and suffering a lack of dignity as you need assistance in all aspects of your decreasing life.
The many acts of grief, the show needs to end. I prayed to God to release my dying Mother from her pain, I just hope that God shows my Father can the same grace he gave to her, so they can be reunited once again, free from pain and smiling, then the final stage of grief will start again.
Kevin Lea-2nd September 2016