In my father, I observed mildness of temper, and unchangeable resolution in the things which he had determined after due deliberation; and no vainglory in the things men call honours; and love of labour and perseverance...
I was thinking of those lines from Marcus Aurelius today as I sat and watched my father in his hospital bed. Every day, every hour he weakens and slides towards the end. He hasn't had food since last Monday - six days. His only nourishment is the IV and he's fading away. He's so tired he dozes all the time, but real sleep eludes him because of the pain and discomfort. He's too tired and weak to hold up his book and read. For my father, not being able to read is a sure sign he's losing thee struggle. Dad loved to read.
I think this may have been the last time I will see him alive.
One never knows how the human spirit will fight to stay with us. He might last days longer. But his kidneys are shutting down, his liver too. Two or three sips of Ensure and he suffers gas and more pain. He's not vomitting blood and tissue right now, possible because the esophagus has sealed over again.
Dad was one of those absolutely moral, upright men - the "last of the just" as Andre Schwartz-Bart wrote of. I sometimes think his was perhaps the last honourable generation, the last generation that would sacrifice itself for the greater good, as they did in WWII. Today people would sacrifice their kids or their spouses for a lottery win, but I doubt many would give up anything significant to help save the world.
Perhaps that's just my own cynicism peeking through.
We've said our goodbyes. Dad and I both know that every visit may be the last one. It's a two-three hour drive to visit him, so if we get a call that he's going, we probably won't be able to get there in time.
I'll try to get down to Toronto again this weekend, but part of me hopes he passes away quietly, in his sleep, peacefully and without any more pain.