Life itself, is the most precious gift of all. Don’t waste it worrying about the lack of love. After all, just like belief in god, love really is nothing more than a lesser degree of indifference.
God! With amusement, I recalled the Sunday-school teacher who’d, to my poor Mother’s shame, excluded me from classes because my questions were too ‘near-the-knuckle’ for her. What had she proclaimed, again? Oh, yes. He lives, he loves, he listens. Forgive my scepticism.
I watched, silent and guilty, as the last breaths of life crept, inexorably, from my father’s weary body. Demons haunted every laboured breath that his failing lungs gasped with such determination. Surely no god would ordain that it should be this way?
My mind was filled with the words of an old Maori poem, ‘Ran Tanapiri’, wriiten three thousand years before Christianity saw the light of day. Such powerful words ; ‘You are your own devil, you are your own god. You fashioned the steps that your footsteps have trod.’ How true.
I stood at the foot of his hospital bed, simply not knowing what to feel. His once ruddy complexion had given way to a sickly pallor that made his face almost blend with the white of the bedsheet, were it not for the insistent grey stubble around his weak chin.
Those grey eyes, pleading somehow when they had briefly opened, had been shocking in thier intensity. Not the shock of retribution. No. The shock of realisation that even now, he wanted nothing from me, but to know that I was there. In the face of death, he still couldn’t put it into words, any more than I.
My feet were begging me to listen to thier pleas for flight, but I couldn’t. Experiences, stacked up like flood-waters behind a giant dam, were clamouring for long-overdue release. Driven by this inexplicable need to express myself to him before the chance was taken forever, I could not move. Frozen in this unwelcome certainty, I waited for him to wake.
He hadn’t been a bad father, just an ordinary working man, that was all. So many mouths to feed, and such a low-paid job. To be a good provider had meant that he couldn’t really be a dad, but with five siblings to shepherd, which eldest child would have found time to notice?
Published in: Family