Waiting for the Grim Reaper
I’m a cricket fanatic and ever since I can remember, Old Father Time, the weathervain has sat proudly atop my beloved Lords cricket ground. Stooped low, like a heavy grey cloud about to burst his being, long handled scythe in hand, OFT has quietly done his job without fear, favour or otherwise. To me, he has been a constant, referred to in quiet moments of game commentary and occasionally brought into shot as the camera pans across the ground.
Old Father Time also bears a striking resemblance to the Grim Reaper, that evil image of impending death. Recently, I have dreamt of both - fear of the latter and reverence to the former. I have wondered what my last moments, breath, seconds will be like. Will I be conscious, will I be aware of what’s going on, will my recently departed dad be there to hold my hand and guide me - or will I simply slide into a permanent cloud of silent black, all hearing , awareness and everything else gone?
It is the uncertainty we dying all face as we contemplate on our death bed that final moment. None of know but those with vivid imaginations frighten each other the most. I have the imaginings off a writer. Everywhere around me is pathos, drama. I lay during the day too exhausted to do anything else but sip cold drinks. I wish I could have a cold beer. My voice has completely abandoned me due to cancer’s invidious spread. When I call out for my wife, I have to beat a deerskin Shamanic drum of hers so that I am heard. Occasionally, I miss the big screen TV I have just bought so slowly arse cheek my way down the stairs, bannister in one hand and urine one bag in my right. Sometimes, my kidney bag site has leaked and I feel cold, wet urine on my T shirt. It is about as ignominious as it gets - I was always such a clean person.
After a few hours watching TV, I return, with help, back up to the safety, security and sanctuary of my warm bedroom bathed in light from the delicious rays of the Tarn.
Wondered if today might be the day Old Father Time catches up with me, I compose myself and say to myself that it cannot possibly be today, I feel too alive, albeit exhausted. And so I lay some more and exhaust the millions of videos on YouTube to amuse me. Sometimes I drift into a sleep, sometimes, I take 20mg of morphine to help me get to sleep. I don’t care anymore. That’s what impending death does for one - it imbues you with a sense of well, whatever you want to do, there are no rules any more.
The French nurse comes to change my dressing and do my blood and I send them away. A) they cannot do the former without causing leakage and b) they hurt so much and f***, do I really want the stress of watching my creatinine level going through the roof? So I Iay and watch mindless TV on my iPad and look forward to when my wife comes up the stairs next to nip nap next to me. Currently, our favourite programme is The Durrells, a beautiful take on innocence living in Corfu in the 1930s. It takes me back to an island I love, albeit one that has changed and one where the narrative, music and wonderful ambience induce sleep beautifully.
However, I was once such an active soul, all this laying and sleeping is no good for one. I have to stay alive for Monday next week as my daughters come to see me, well one daughter. The other in her grief forgot that her passport had long expired - so my wife has had to get a letter from my GP confirming my situation and now I pray that British bureaucracy will allow for her to make it to me before I go.
So it’s a race between my kidneys and my kiddies. Will they make it? Will my parcel of wine gums arrive in time for me to eat them. Will I ever see my daughters again or will the inexorable reach of the Grim Reaper’s scythe come take me before this little joys? It has done a very good job of spoiling my life thus far so all I ask is one small mercy, a few more days, before I slip into that black cloud as frightened as can be wondering if Steve Jobs hallucigenic Wow, WoW, Wow, was really him entering the kingdom of Heaven or being chased by the sharpened scythe of Old Father Time.