Teetering on the edge of his mortality, his health rapidly failing, my 91-year-old father appears a lost soul looking to take flight. I see surrender in his tired eyes and in the stoop of his once-broad shoulders; I hear resignation in his voice and in the shuffle of his feet; I feel withdrawal in his reluctance to engage the world at large and in each awkward hug ensconced in his frail and fragile frame.
His vulnerability is palpable; so too is his lassitude.
‘Hold on a little bit longer!’ I want to shout. Be brave, be wise, be a beacon of light at the end of the tunnel. Be my hero, be my dad!
What do I know of saying goodbye?
I know this is not my swan song; not my life, or my death.
I know, too, with each visit, with each chance to bear witness to my father’s suffering and his letting go, that I grow more determined to be brave, to be wise, to be a beacon of light at the end of the tunnel.
After all, sooner than I ever imagined possible, I’ll be the one barring the door. It’s time I took up the torch.