An elderly close family member is due to undergo surgery today, a lengthy procedure that will leave him bed bound for a number of days. It’s surgery that’s not without risk at his age, however it’s a necessity to remove a highly aggressive malignancy.
Despite the pain he is experiencing from this abnormal tissue growth, there has been no feeling sorry for himself or complaining about his circumstances. He remains stoic, preferring to shy away from attention during conversations, instead changing the topic to the welfare of others.
A pragmatist, he faces his upcoming op with an acceptance born from knowing it’s more or less a last resort to ensure further longevity to his four score and one years. When visiting him he appears unfazed while he sits in his bed, listening to some of his favourite tunes on the cd player my sister Helen bought him. When he isn’t humming along, he ‘treats’ the rest of the ward to a backing track of cacophonous mint imperial slurping.
When we (the family) visit him, his concerns are not about the upcoming operation. They tend to focus on relaying to us putting out the brown bin, checking his wife has bought groceries with long ‘use by’ dates and ensuring his other OCD rituals are fulfilled.
His OCD got the best of him on Wednesday; becoming irritated when my brother Ian fractionally moved his cutlery from their designated positions on his bed tray. Our Ian learned a painful lesson that day, receiving a knuckle rap with the back of a stainless steel spoon.
This family member (who for anonymity purposes I’ll call Arthur) is a loving, caring and supportive part of our brood, who we love dearly. His lifestyle decision to remain on the periphery, shunning the spotlight robs his peers of his many astute epiphanies.
A very undemonstrative man, I’ve never heard Arthur bad mouth anyone and is just about the only adult male I’ve ever met who doesn’t use the ‘f’ word. Although an older family member said they’d once heard him tell someone “You make me f***ing sick, you chuffing moron!”…… It was an unorthodox chat up line, but bizarrely did the trick on first meeting my mum.
He always looks to see the good in everyone, whether they deserve it or not. It’s difficult to see him at a stage of life where he’s pained, gaunt and sometimes even without the energy to check the ‘use by’ date on a punnet of strawberries.
As I reach this point of the narrative, I’ve just taken a telephone call to say that Arthur’s op will now take place next Wednesday, which may mean he can return home for a couple of days.
We’ve been assured that him being sent home has nothing to do with the huff he took after the nurse gave him his meds in none alphabetical order. It also is unrelated to his angry response on waking to find the bed curtains had been moved 7.5 inches towards the window overnight!
On his admission to hospital, Arthur was asked scores of questions such as medication allergies, if he required a walking stick, bowel movement regularity and when his last GP visit was…….. I have to say, as I listened to this line of questioning from an affable student nurse, I couldn’t resist pointing out to pater “Bloody hell, dad. This has to be the worst pub quiz you’ve ever brought us to.”…….. No, he didn’t laugh either!