The mist has rolled in, silent and insistent. It’s crept under locked doors and into private spaces, obscuring what was. I want to return to when the sun shone every day; when he was strong; when I could call out “Dad can you fix this?” But for the first time in our lives, he can’t. So a fog has settled on the household. There’s a precipice somewhere – the edge of no return – but we don’t know where or when.
In my several weeks here in South Africa there’s been a marked decline in Dad’s strength, the speed of which has taken my breath away.
He’s still involved in projects: there’s plenty to do on this new property; but the tables have turned. I’m the one painting, tiling (finishing that bathroom mentioned last trip), sanding, setting up a new garden and dragging large tree branches to a bonfire.
Now he’s my assistant.
The physical limitations are frustrating him and we are struggling too … for the right words. It’s so easy to talk about doing life but he wants no mention of death. The best we can do is walk alongside and hold the torch as he stumbles towards the invisible.
Cruelly my time in Africa is up. I bid him a tender goodbye, my memories are no longer of his toughness but his frailty.