My wife’s dad, nicked named ‘Dodie’, was born in Edinburgh –practically a street urchin. An old navy vet, he was always the life of the party, loved by everyone and enjoyed a good ‘dram’ – saying, in his 18th century-type voice, “I quite loves’ me whiskey… or anyone’s else’s.”
Here is the beloved one, in hospital bed a-lying / Monitors all disconnected now, the old sailor knows he’s dying.
His rugged constitution gave way to poor health late in life which included angina and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Yet, it was said of him that his no-worry attitude and wry sense of humour could dispel any sadness… lighten up any room.
“What the hell, he’d say, I’ve lived a good life, I’m ready to go anytime.”
With it, the family understands, it’s what he’s been wanting / Sick and unable to move, these past few weeks been daunting.
One time, he was led off a plane in a wheelchair – due to acute shortness of breath – looking deathly ill and hardly able to speak, he whispered, “Fred, let’s get out of here! These women are making a fuss over nothing.”
On another occasion, after a family function, his wife chastised him for accepting too many drinks. Dodie’s response: “Well woman, it was a wedding not a funeral.”
But, in the end, time eventually caught up to Dodie – spending his last remaining days in hospital ‘comfort care.’
Above a computer screen urgently flashes … no time remaining / Yet he lives on – in slumber-induced sleep – ever weighing his staying.
He hears well the nurse’s instructions, adjusting his body again / But he waits – until the last voice of loved ones, proved that they’ve been.
My wife – as she was in the beginning – remained at his side. And, late one evening, as the end neared, she decided to give him a true Scottish send-off.
Now, the trial seems over, so clearly seen on his face / With peace and contentment, the new order, all worry’s been replaced.
She set up an old CD player loaded with his favourite Scottish songs. She even had the evening nursing staff and another patient singing, “O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road / And I’ll be in Scottland before ye”
A life worth celebrating, his favourite music plays/Drinks all ‘round is called for … seems like old days.
A nurse herself, she’d seen her fair share of morbid death watches, so she was determined to see her father die his way. So, after dipping a mouth-sponge soaked with brandy, she gently rubbed it across his lips.
Well, Dodie, reacting deep from within an unconscious state, latched on and wouldn’t give it up. As we laughed, she calmly said to him that she couldn’t give him another drop unless he let it go. He did! – his face glowing with satisfaction… making the bitter sweet.
And later, in the wee hours, when a last breath is drawn Under calm skies and time remaining, he sails into the dawn!