After a full day with the 24 hour carer in place, I was a home getting ready to put the children to bed. I knew from J that all the signs pointed to these being dad's last few days. But my dad had shown himself to be incredibly, stubbornly tough. He had dodged some previous predictions of his demise and so I let myself relax.
Then I got a call from the carer. She told me that, for the first time dad had complained of pain in his throat. He had probably been in pain for weeks but his definition was quite different to mine. This was significant, and when I told J, her face fell. I was looking around for my coat when the phone rang again. This time the carer told me my dad had stopped responding and she had just called to doctor. I heard her call to dad to see if he could hear her.
It takes about 40 minutes to drive from my house to my parents. All the way I was swinging between rehearsing how I would take the bad news, and wondering if dad had managed to cheat death again. For a man so frail he had proved to be surprisingly tough.
When I arrived I was met by the neighbour, the carer and my mum, all in tears. The neighbour told me dad had gone twenty minutes earlier.
After dealing with the strange combination of loss and relief, the carer, my mum and I sat down and talked. We kept talking until one in the morning - grieving with tea and biscuits. I slept on the floor while the others took to their beds. The next morning I lost myself in keeping busy.