another day

First a clarification on behalf of Dad, who I am pleased to discover still reads my blog with close attention. Dad’s view on his own condition is that he has a little problem with his language, not with his memory.


Dad and I went for a lovely drive the other day. We went out to Mulwarree, the homestead that is the original of the Rupert Richardson watercolour in Mum’s hospital room. It’s only 7km out of town, but the Hereford cattle, the dry golden paddocks and the gnarled gum trees are pure outback.

The lightning storm on Monday night had sparked a bushfire on Mount Hobden, and we could see the smoke streaming off the mountain and the haze falling from it like white rain. We stopped behind the saleyards so that I could speak words of love to four Thoroughbred broodmares, their bellies heavy with foal.


Mum is …stable. She eats little or nothing and keeps little enough of it down, but she can cope with Sustagen, and usually has a glass of it on the go. Sylvia the syringe driver keeps her pain at zero, mostly.

The improvement this has made to her quality of life is hard to adequately convey. After Christmas (when Mum was still treating her end-stage cancer pain with the equivalent of Tylenol) it was hard for her to sit up long enough to play a game of mah jongg. She was folded in on herself. She looked grey.

Now she is comfortable, and the glow has returned to her skin. We play for hours. We watch The Last of the Summer Wine. We finish crosswords. She is teaching Sarah to do crosswords. She tells jokes. She is full of good cheer.

Morphine is mercy.


She is a remarkable listener. Her friends come by and tell her extraordinary, deeply personal stories. Mum is a quiet and accepting presence. It’s a privilege to witness.


I’m settling in for my fourth night on the pull-out sofa. I take my meds, I brush my teeth, I eat healthy food, I swim my laps.

I take each thing as it comes. I look for things that need doing. I do a little bit of work while Mum is asleep.

I’m very lucky to be here.

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