My father died on the 27th of July 2013. I wasn’t there.
My father’s funeral was held on the 30th of July 2013. I didn’t attend.
II had said my goodbyes to my father two weeks before. He was barely conscious and I doubt that he realised he was dying. If he did, he certainly put up a good fight. The last time I saw him, his breathing stopped often and each time itndid I was certain he had breathed his last. But then miraculously he would start breathingnagain. Even though we knew the end was near, it was also a happy time.
For the first time in many, many years, my father, mother, two brothers, sister and I were together in the same room. It may have been a hospital room but that didn’t matter. We sat around Dad’s bed and between singing old favourite songs to him, we reminisced about growing up under the watchful eye of our parents. Every now and then our father would wake up and be with us for a minute or two before drifting into unconsciousness again.
I spent three days with my father, but inevitably I needed to return home. No one expected him to hang on as long as he did, but in hindsight we should have realised that being the stubborn bugger he was, he wasn’t going to go without a fight. Even though I had said my goodbyes, I was sad that I wasn’t there with him at the end. He was ninety years and one month young.
On the day before the funeral I developed a migraine. By the following morning it was much worse. I was unable to string sentences together, and had difficulty in comprehending what my wife said. I was unable to walk without staggering, one side of my face had a droop, and my right arm had gone on strike. As best as I could I told my wife that I still wanted to attend the funeral even though it was an hour drive to the city where it was to be held.
When my son arrived to pick us up, I not yet dressed into my suit, so I struggled upstairs to change. Buttons are very difficult to do up when one set of fingers refuses to cooperate and the other set obeys reluctantly. Eventually I was dressed and struggled downstairs and waited in the dining room while the others made final preparations for the journey.
I have no idea how long I waited, but eventually I realised the house was very quiet. I went in search of the rest of the family but found no one. I then noticed my son’s car was not in the driveway. I couldn’t understand why they had left without me.
I tried to phone my sister to tell her that I had been left behind but I wasn’t able to make a coherent sentence, andbhung up in frustration. Almost immediately the phone rang, it was from my sister’s house. The personnon the other end told me not to worry about not being able to attend the funeral or being a pallbearer. I’m not sure if my insistence that I wanted to attend was understood and eventually the caller terminated the call. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, my wife and son had already arrived at my sister’s place where everyone was congregating before the funeral. Over an hour had passed since I went to change.
Migraines can play havoc with one’s executive skills and it did so that day. I decided that if I was going to attend the funeral, I would have to get there myself. I realise I was in no state to drive, so I set out on foot. I was about three kilometres into the journey when it dawned on me that it would take more than nine hours to get there and the funeral would be well and truly over by then. I turned around and headed home.
I don’t remember the walk back home or anything else until late in the day when my wife found me sprawled out on the bed still in my suit. It’s not often I get angry, in fact it’s extremely rare, but apparently I was furious after I was told I was left behind “for my own good”. To add insult to injury, I was informed that my condition was so distressing to observe that it would have upset those attending the funeral.
I didn’t attend my father’s funeral. I wanted to.