There we were: two ambulance officers, my sister and myself, in the lobby of a public hotel and the guys trying to fold down the stretcher. I then opted to go upstairs and see my stepmother as the ambulance fellows had said that she was “quite distressed”. Can’t imagine why.
I shamefully admit it was cowardice as well as wanting to see how she was. I stood around by my Dad, and patted his hand and murmured platitudes and all the time I was aware that he wouldn’t look at me or squeeze my hand back. God, that hurt. It didn’t matter a damn that I knew it was probably brain secondaries or him fixating negatively on me because he felt safe enough to do so. What mattered was that I had organised this transport and it had been stuffed up and I was ultimately responsible. I wanted to run away from that.
I went up and my stepmother was so upset. The hospital bed had been delivered that morning (or the day before – I can’t remember which; I only know they wouldn’t let him out until we had one) and was right in the middle of the beautiful hand woven Middle Eastern carpet they had bought together one of the last times they had travelled overseas. The delivery people had set it up so that the head of the bed faced the kitchen wall; an extremely dull view of stove, refrigerator etc. I remember thinking it didn’t matter because we would have Dad upstairs in his bed in the next half hour and then, two hours later, his son, his son-in-law and various able bodied friends would come around and we would take that bed upstairs and transfer him into it so he could die in the bedroom he loved so much.
We waited upstairs for a while. Then for a longer while. And then I decided to go back down and find out what the hell was happening.