My dad arrives in the middle of the night and then the next morning he heads off to the hospital with my sister T.
I stay at home doing various toddler related duties. The last time I took Tricky to hospital, the last time I saw Grandad conscious and sporting both legs, I had to bribe him with half a bag of jelly snakes to sit nicely and be quiet. Toddler, not grandfather.
When they get back they tell me that there's no need to override the full active care decision at this point because, actually, he's um...better.
What are you talking about, I say? How can he be better?
But later, when Tricky is having a nap, I go into the hospital and the young intern pulls me aside. He is doing really well, she tells me. We had a horrible night but now he is having two other painkillers as well as the morphine and so the pain is much better managed, he's less yellow and we think that we have got all the infection.
She is an extremely beautiful woman with quite delicate features and as she smiles at me, delighted, I think that she could easily have been a very successful actor. Film even.
You know how they have that flawless skin?
She seems to be waiting for me to respond and so I say..."oh, isn't that great?" And I think she sees my confusion or my cynicism or maybe my close scrutiny of her perfect tiny pores and so she adds...but he is still a sick man. A very sick man. And I still don't think he will necessarily leave the hospital. But for now he is doing well.
And my face twists to register this good bad good news.
I like him, she tells me. He's feisty. And he gives us a hard time. but then...he's been through a lot, allowed to.
And so when I finally go in to see grandad and he reaches for my hands and asks if they are going to chop any more of him off I can say without a lie that they think they have all the infection so there will be no need to chop other bits off and that he has made the doctor smile because she thinks he is doing very well.
And that makes him happy, for now.
I am typing this on one of the pay internet computer thingies at the hospital. For some reason the wireless at dad's place is up the shit and I can't get online without extreme effort on my part. Everything seems to be so hard. Driving from Sydney to Newcastle I got round the corner to discover that some arsehole had smashed in part of the front of my car while it was parked on the road and the wheel was rubbing against metal. My car that was once my grandad's car, I add. And I'm tired and it's so hard doing this with Tricky.
This afternoon my grandad told me with annoyed surprise that he has been informed he will no longer be allowed to use his walker. I nod and raise my eyebrows as if the thought had never occurred to me.
And...he told me, it took four blokes and a woman to wash me today. So...how they expect me to do it, I don't know.
Hmmm, I nod.
They couldn't take my blood, he tells me, so I told them what to do and now it's good.
That's good, I say.
He grimaces and I wipe his face free of some orange liquid and then clean out his nose, by request.
Is that good? I ask.
That's good, he grunts. Now what I really want is for somone to cut my hair. With the clippers, so that I don't have to bother combing it.
There are no black and whites in this dying malarky are there? I remember with mum it changed hour by hour, good news, bad news, good news, fucked news.
He's not in pain so that's good and the tube is out of his nose and now he will be able to eat slowly and that's good too. But then, he's got bedsores and that's bad, and the boss from his retirement lodge is coming to see him this afternoon and tell him what happens next. And that's going to be bad because it will be the nursing home. But then that's only if he makes it out of hospital and no one can tell us how long he has to stay before then. They don't think his body has what it takes to properly heal after the operation and so that's bad isn't it? Isn't it?
What is good? What is bad? What is hope? What is best?
He is talking and complaining and shouting and being "feisty".
His nose is clean.
His hair needs cutting.
He made the intern smile and there is no more chopping and so, for now, he's happy and that's enough.
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