It was an ordinary day, you were in for an ordinary exploratory procedure, they called it. You weren’t well and I was pleased that this was being addressed. You hadn’t been eating.
It was 1994 then.
I sat by your bed , not knowing what to say; you smiled a twinkle smile that lit your eyes and creased your brow, which was about all that I could see beneath the covers, drawn around you. You snuggled like a child.
“You alright? I’m sorry that you have to be here. Really sorry”
“But it’s nice here, the nurses are nice too!” Daddy said with a naughty twinkle.
I smiled back and kissed your brow.
I didn’t stay long, I knew you were in good hands, you were tired and might sleep a while, and I would return later to hear the results and we could have a good long chat then.
Why didn’t I stay?
Always in a rush to do this and that, when I could have stayed and said so many things:
Like, although I was your second born, Dad, and not a son, Again! I hope I lived up to your expectations. Did you proud. I was always in your footsteps, one step behind. You were there to dry my tears and patch my knee, if I ran too fast and climbed too high.
I loved that pedal car, remember, I wanted it when I was five. Not a doll. It was red and made of metal with a windscreen you could have up or down.
You taught me all about tongue and groove joints in your workshop at eight or nine. How they strengthened the wooden framework you were building for a table. Do you remember how you saved all the small bits of wood for me, so I could build and design houses, spending hours out there with you.
At that wedding, can’t remember whose, can you? you taught me to dance with you, then I was eleven. It was all ‘grown up’ dancing, not like in the lounge when I stood on your shoes and you carried me about. Those early lessons really paid off. Can’t keep me off the floor now!
When I was fourteen, I nagged you so, to teach me to drive the car. Although it took me a lot longer than it ever did my younger brother years later. He did it by eight! But you were patient. You were proud of all your girls and your only son, I could have reminded you about his acheivements once again.
I might have stayed and talked of Ireland when you were a young man, you liked to do that. How you went out to dances and got home at three in the morning, after the long walk home from Cork with your girl friends. I would have reminded you about how strict you were on your own daughters about getting in late.
You would have said “Was I?”, pretending your curfew never exisited.
We should have talked of happy times when we were one big family out for a Sunday picnic; back then, when we were still all small enough for 6 of us to fit into the Austin A55. We went to our favourite places that you had grown to love in South Africa.
And we grew.
Somedays you would wake, when I visited that nursing home you stayed in in 1994, and you’d find me sitting by your bed; your eyes would look at me differently, differently to looking at a daughter. You would say:
“I knew you would come!” with tears brimming your eyes, and I’d know instantly that you thought I was Mommy. Slowly the realization dawned and those soft lines on your face changed, and you would grab my hand and squeeze out a tear.
We could have laughed at how I was the different and difficult daughter after my older sister, who seemed to do all the right things and what she was told. But I was headstrong, determined and careless, throwing caution to the wind. Or talked of when you had given me away in marriage in 1969; and you would have said that you had felt sad that day.
I could have stayed and talked, but I left you, smiling and kissed your brow.
An ordinary day.
Ordinary day for whom, not for you, nor for me, Daddy.
When on my return you didn’t see me come in; you were shivering, and in shock. You hardly knew I was there at all, and we didn’t talk. And you never opened those twinkling eyes again.
I could have stayed and talked.
For more Time Travel.
Also to be my “O” entry for Jenny’s Alphabe Thursday challenge