Thursday, 20 November 2014

Life is about making happy memories



Life is about making happy memories

I will never forget the day I found out daddy had a cancer. I still remember calling him to find out about his visit to the doctors. As soon as he picked up the phone and said ‘hello’ I knew. In fact, I had known from the moment he told me he wasn’t well a few days before.
A couple of weeks later he started radiotherapy. It drained him completely; having destroyed his immune system, it left him with the second degree burns. Those took over a month to heal. Daddy then faced a major decision – whether or not to have an operation.

Being a real denial pro I did what I do best - pretend that everything was ok and daddy had just picked up a case of a seasonal flu. It lasted until Mr Chateauneuf had enough of my nonsense. He bought me a ticket and sent me to Ukraine to see daddy.

One flight, two G&Ts and way too many hours on a bus later I arrived in a little town somewhere north of Kiev. I got off the wretched bus and looked at the man walking towards me. I barely recognised him – he looked like a ghost of my daddy past. Deep lines pierced his face, dark circles settled under his eyes and had he lost half of his body weight. Last time I saw him this skinny was on his wedding photograph.

I gently hugged him, afraid if I squeeze too hard he would break. It took me all my self-control not to cry. So I babbled about my trip, work, kids – anything and everything to divert my attention from thinking about how sick my daddy was.

My baby brother arrived the following morning. We needed to talk about daddy’s illness and the options he had. It was simple – he needed to have an operation which meant a major lifestyle change. Daddy refused point blank. There were no other options.
That afternoon I took my brother for a walk and a much needed cigarette. We sat on the bench looking at the river and talked about mum. We reminisced, we laughed, we smoked. Mum’s death was sudden, it came as a shock. Neither of us wanted to be shocked again, we wanted to be prepared and to spend as much time with daddy as we could.
As I turned to look at my brother I suddenly saw a little boy who was scared but wanted to look brave. I couldn’t help but wonder, in our attempt to come to grips with grave reality are we failing daddy? Should we try to convince him to have that operation? Can we do more?
Later that night we all settled in the lounge drinking whatever was going, taking silly photos and laughing. We laughed so hard, my stomach ached. It was like the good old days.
And as I looked at daddy, with his face lit up with laughter, I suddenly realised that we weren’t failing him. We both were there spending time with him and making him laugh.
I don’t know how long he has got left. But I will always remember that night, I will remember my mascara running and my stomach aching; I will remember daddy’s deep laughter and the sparkle in his eyes. After all, life is about making happy memories.