Conversations with Death


It burst, this life giving pathway had been bulging for quite a while now, struggling with the flow. 
Its threads hang loosely, as the dark fluid begins to rush upward. 
There was no warning, no signals or signs to alert us what was to come.

He had been busy these past few weeks. Preparing for their homecoming, he wanted them to feel welcome. He wanted to let them know they have been dearly missed from the heart. People had been remarking how well he was looking. Walking the dog daily was starting to pay off. He was feeling good about himself and his boisterous dog was so much calmer. He and this energetic golden retriever had started to become good friends, companions. The young dog no longer chewed his way through the house. They had begun to fit into a routine together, each knowing what the other was doing.

There was much to be done before they arrived. The windows needed to be cleaned, he wanted to plant some herbs and flowers in the little patch of soil at the front of their stone cottage. The living room ceiling needed to be painted. Not one for making things easy on himself, he climbed up the ladder with only a small paintbrush in his hand, to give the entire ceiling a brand new coat of white. 

He often likes to test his stamina in anything he does. He must always kick his boot at the turnaround point on their walk. He would never be able to rest easy knowing he did not make that end point, that he did not complete his task for the day. He detests giving up on anything. He used to run around the small woodland at the back of their old house. All the beautiful trees that he had planted with his own loving hands, he would do twenty laps around his little forest, no more, no less.

He notices the grass getting long, it was a nice dry day, he decided he may as well get to it. He pulls the lawnmower out of the small wooden shed, gives it a quick clean removing some cobwebs with a rag he had in his back pocket. He is quite fastidious with his cleaning, it is almost a ritual for him helping to clear his mind. A therapeutic routine whilst he zones out, dreaming up the next profound line for the complex character he is in the midst of creating in his writing. 

He wheels the mower out onto the grass. He opens up the black plastic cap on the fuel tank, it is still quite full, the fumes of petrol fill his nostrils. He begins to feel slightly light headed. It is a long lawn but not very wide, there is a large wooden deck connecting the side of the house to the green grass. It should not take him long to get this job done. Then he can relax and have the soup and brown bread that he had been looking forward to all morning.

Two swallows rest on the electric wire that stretches from the house to the electric pole on the other side of the rural country road. The swallows chirp happily in the Spring sunshine. The mountains can be clearly seen today, they stand proudly overlooking the green land. The cattle happily graze on the new shoots of soft green grass, the baby lambs timidly bleat as their mother walks off to find a fresh patch. The family dog as always, is by his side, hoping they can play, eagerly wagging his tail, drool dripping from his mouth as he lets out short pleading barks.

The man pulls the handle, the cord stretches out and the small engine begins to splutter into life. The lawnmower has not been started in a quite a while. He starts walking up the lawn away from the house. He notices the grass does not seem to be getting shorter as the mower passes over. He pulls the lever to stop the engine and decides to turnit on its side to investigate. He inspects the blades to check whether they have become blunt. He starts to feel dizzy again. He decides to sit down on the edge of the decking. The dog notices something is up and walks over to be by his side. The man’sdizziness then becomes overwhelming, he collapses into the uncut grass. 
He lays there motionless. The dog bends his head down to his master, he sniffs at his face and gently licks the man’s rough hand. There is no response. The dog senses that this is bad and does the only thing a dog knows how to do in such a situation. He barks and barks, he must alert someone that his master is in need of some help. The neighbours across the road hear his barking but they pass no heed. He is always making noise, this excitable golden retriever. 

A few hours pass, the faithful dog is still there by his side, his barks are still loud but by now they are becoming less frequent. The man comes to, he feels incredibly weak. He slowly drags himself across the wooden deck, his right leg feels like a dead weight, his right arm hangs lifelessly by his side, he holds onto it with his good hand. He managesto make it to the couch just inside the double doors that look out onto the decking. He lays there under the wooden spiral staircase. He makes a promise to himself. 

“If I wake, I will get help”. He is not in any pain. He feels like he is ready.

She sits on the bench, she watches her mum who has come across the world to help her with her newborn baby and her three year old. Her lively red headed boy and her nurturing mum are playing by the water’s edge. He loves water, his grandmother has to hold tightly onto his little hand to make sure he does not dive straight into the cool river water. The baby is sleeping in his pram, snuggled up, protected from the autumn chill that has begun to set in. She feels a flutter of excitement in her tummy. It won’t be long now, a few more weeks and they will be off, jetting across the world. She is excited to show off her perfect new baby to her Dad, she is excited for him to see how much her first born has grown. Eager for him to see what a truly hilarious and unique character his first grandson has become. They walk home with the boys safely strapped into the pram, dinner has already been prepared. All they have to do is get the bedtime routine going and then they can relax for the rest of the evening. She is starting to feel stronger these days, even though she is still in a haze of feeding and sleeping or not, she feels like she can muster up the energy over the next few weeks to be able to take her mum out and about visiting the usual touristy places.

They wake the next morning, she notices quite a few messages on her phone. The kind of text messages that you know mean something terrible has happened.  She does not say anything to her mum, her hand shaking and her heart in her mouth, she quickly dials the number. 

They make the horrible journey across the world, a brand new ten week old grandson, a three year old boy unable to understand what is really happening, a heart broken wife and a worried daughter. Her mother’spatience and strength impress her on this dreaded journey. They bite their tongues when the boy begins to go stir crazy with delirium. They are so close to losingit, but they know there is no point, they must focus on the journey, they have to keep their strength up for what lies ahead.   

She walks up the stairs of the hospital. It is quite a run down place, the paint is peeling off the walls and some of the widows are taped shut, preventing them from falling out when people try to open them to let the stale hospital air out and replace it with fresh Spring air. There are over worked nurses rushing about everywhere, so many ill patients to tend to. She is feeling nervous, she is unsure what to expect. She hopes that she can contain her emotions, hide her fear from her face. 

She walks into a small ward, people of all ages can be seen lyingon the beds, some fast asleep, others sitting up gazing into space. She cannot see him at first, she needs to ask a passing nurse. 
There he is, sitting up ina chair by the window, a book in his hand, nothing unusual there, he could be at home in his own living room. Then she sees the white compression stockings on his legs and the hospital identity bracelet on his wrist. He gives her a huge smile. 
He looks amazing, considering what he has been through. His speech is slightly slurred, his right arm is paralysed, his right leg very weak. He is bright and talkative. She begins to relax. He is full of positivity andis ready to take on this battle. He tells her that she needs to put weight on her face, to which she replies “No I just need a face lift”. They smile. She then knows he is going to be alright. She knows the type of character he is, he will use all of his strength and determination to become as strong as he was before. 

Three months pass and it is time for her to leave with her boys. He is now able to walk, he is able to embrace her, the strength she once knew from those loving bear hugs that she always misses has almost returned. They cannot speak any words, they are too choked up. Each of them know. 
No words need to be spoken. She is proud of him.  He has been truly amazing and admirable in the cold terrifying face of that repulsive word. Stroke. 

 This “Thankful Thursday” words cannot express how thankful I am that he only had brief “conversations with death”. It was not his time. He still has much to do in this life. He still has a wealth of wisdom to pass onto his daughters and his precious grandchildren, all seven of them.

Today I am linking with the fabulous Always Josefa for conversation over coffee and the gorgeous Rhianna for ThankFul Thursday @ AParentingLife

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