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I’ve never had much to do with my father. He left when I was a year old, my mother brought me back to her home country and he got in touch only sporadically because he “never knew what to say” to me. Still, we’ve met up in later years and it’s fine, though we could never be close—he’s more like a distant uncle I’m fond of. Even now, as a result, any similarities between us are still a novelty for me.

These days he’s enduring an amazing onslaught of ill health. He has chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder from a lifetime of smoking*, meaning he often has serious trouble breathing; he has been coeliac all his life but was diagnosed at the age of 70, meaning that he has spent most of his life not absorbing enough calcium and his bones are very weak as a consequence; he may well have had a minor stroke several years ago; he has either Lyme’s disease or the motor neurone condition ALS—either way, his muscles and brain function are fast deteriorating—and he was scheduled for an urgent recall on Monday so the hospital could run tests on the shadow they had found on his lung scans. My brother and sister keep me up to date with his progress.

I saw him the day before. He asked after my mother, who has recently been ill herself. I told him how things were going with her and then, mindful of the myriad shitstorms he’s facing, said, “So how are you?”

He raised his eyebrows and replied, in full: “I’m fine.

He is so my dad.

* He gave up at the age of 60, saying “I’ve had enough cigarettes”, but arguably the damage had been done some time before, since he started by picking up discarded cigarettes around the local POW camp full of Russians, or swapping fresh eggs with them for new ones, at the age of six.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 13th, 2010 02:11 pm (UTC)
Yes, he so is. Come for sushi, FFS. x
May. 13th, 2010 09:28 pm (UTC)
I second this, and the sushi bit.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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