My father and I have never been very close. I have always told him off of not having loved me enough or at least not having shown it.
We didn’t spent much time together and barely spoke to each other throughout our lives; each of us was closed in its own inability to show affection.
He was very discreet and little inclined to show any kind of emotion; he sometimes managed to completely disprove his character showing himself inclined to communication, listening and sharing. The image I had and I have on him differed and differ from that of other people.
From one side his true or apparent emotional distance and his extreme discretion deeply influenced me, to the other side I believe that these behaviors protect us in a way that I could not explain in these few lines, at least from a certain point. However, every coin has its own side!
He has never been a burden, he never asked anything from anybody, he has never been depressed, he never asked for my help or my presence, except in rare circumstances. He was independent and lived alone until the age of 92.
Since the end of June 2014, in spite of subsequent trips from a hospital to another and a short period at home, he was confined in a bed and subject to every kind of treatment, he never complained or surrender, he was never scared; he only made some more or less appropriate requests.
It was just like that, he sometimes became capricious as if he wasn’t totally aware of his situation, indeed he insisted on doing things on his own, as if his state of extreme fragility did not concern him the least bit. He maybe was simply scared of becoming fully aware of it.
Many times I would have asked him what he thought or felt, if he was scared, but then…too much intimacy! For us something unknown!
Instead, discussing has always been the only way to communicate and deal with problems for us, even the most common ones. We have never spoken about us, how we felt, about our problems, our lives. We hardly ever asked questions about each other. There has never been a real communication between the two of us!
Not even before he departed we managed to go beyond and disobey to our common relational rules. We have been able to discuss almost till the end. He thought I insisted on refusing to bring him home but how I could make him understand that he couldn’t stay at home in his health conditions? Sometimes he got upset because he believed I denied him some extra food when he requested.
He will have thought I wanted dump him, abandoning him in a hospital…. That I didn’t care….Yet, I think I did everything within my power to help him……
The fire of old pains never blow out, it doesn’t take much and it fires up as if it were the first time!
In the last two-and-a-half months, his entire life was made by memories, hoping to have a little more time to live but being aware that all that medical tortures wouldn’t have led him anywhere.
He no longer remembered his house but I helped him to walk across the hospital rooms. He talked about his hunger, he asked in hiding by doctors for some of that cheese he liked so much but it was forbidden because of his diabetes; he chatted with pleasure with a room-mate in the hospital, sharing with him many memories of the past, he read newspapers and listened to the radio wearing big earphones, just like those guys we all see on the street or on the bus.
I saw him slowly die but I have never thought he could go away so fast. I have always imagined that figure as if it were eternal, just like a page of a book which can only belongs to that book, forever, since it is an essential part of that.
Two days before his last journey he managed neither to intelligibly speak nor to write.
“In compliance with his state” doctors said.
September 10th, in spite of his difficulties in articulating he told me a dream “Tonight I felt a presence of a woman next to me who rested on the bars of my bed, like now you and Petruzza do”.
As soon as I left the hospital Petruzza told me the story of his uncle who, just like my father, dreamt more or less the same thing dying little later “I don’t believe to these things” I said to myself, trying never think about it!
In his umpteenth journey from a clinic to another, the morning of September 11 I saw him again at 10 o’clock at the reception, he was sleepy and cold. I woke him up and we managed to have a little talk, it was difficult but I understood what he was saying.
He was perfectly alert, he told me to be hungry and that he would gladly have eaten a piece of bread; he even talked about the poor quality and quantity of food served in clinics and hospitals.
I left him with doctors and he was still alert and collaborative, although he was tired to complete the bureaucratic process needed for the reception.
I got away no more than 10 minutes when they came looking for me “What happened? What they want to know?” I barely thought he was died.
But he was, discretely, while he was sleeping.
I was speechless. It suddenly was all over.
I haven’t any doubt. Finally he was free from his long journey lasted 93 years.
I’m peaceful because he didn’t realize what was happening and he didn’t suffer any physical pain. But I regret three things, the first one, we couldn’t tell “I love you” to each other, the second one, I couldn’t take a photo of him wearing the earphones, just like a funny and tender 93 years old teenager and the third one, I didn’t give to him all that cheese and bread he wanted and asked for so many times.