I remember it was a Saturday afternoon. All through the week I had been anxious because my stepmother had been keeping information from us about Dad’s health. We ended up finding out he’d been in hospital for a few days because he’d gone downhill after his first radiation treatment. The Chemotherapy had worked a little bit, but not enough. So, they wanted to try a new form of radiation. I was quite angry to hear about it 3rd hand. I knew if I called her she wouldn’t tell me what I wanted to hear. So, I knew there would be only a few places Dad could be, so I started to ring around. The Hospital in Bunbury, WA was where he was. The Nurse incharge of him that night put me straight through to him.
I had a brief conversation with him, but he was so high on Morphene that he could hardly speak. I don’t remember much of the conversation, but all I remember saying at the end was “well I better let you rest Dad, I love you so much okay” he managed to say the same back.
The next morning I had a call from my Step mother. She was furious that I had made contact with him, without consulting her first. She was even furious at the Nurse for putting my call through. She said “if you PEOPLE want information on your father, you will come through me. Every other family member is doing it that way, even your Grandparents, so why do you think you’re any better?” This made me so anxious that I nearly vomited everywhere after I had hung up. Something was up, and we couldn’t get any answers. All she said was that the Radiation didn’t sit well with him and that he needed to be monitored.
That was on the Tuesday from memory. I also had another brief run in with her a day or two after regarding some pictures I had put up on Facebook.
On the Saturday afternoon, it was about 230 when I had a call come through from her. I ignored it an switched off my phone. Curiosity got the better of me a half hour later and I switched it back on. I had then missed calls from my sisters, so I rang the Stepmother straight back, I knew what it was. She said it was time that we all get on a plane and head over to WA, as he wasn’t going to last another 24 hours.
I hung up the phone and and went into overdrive. I quickly hopped on the net and booked the first connecting flight out of Mackay, which is a 1.5 hour flight to Brisbane. Which was leaving an in an hour and a half. This was the only flight I could get, that would enable me to make the last flight from Brisbane, Queensland to Western Australia, to be there by midnight.
I grabbed everything and anything that I thought I might need. Shoved it into my suitcase, and ran to the car. I didn’t have time to get a friend to collect me. I literally sped to the Airport. I was ringing my two friends frantically but they weren’t answering. The plan was that I was going to leave my car at the airport and have them come collect my car for me at a later stage and drop it back home. Which is what they did.
I hopped on the plane and was so fucking thankful that I had made it. From booking the flight and sitting in my seat it was within 60 minutes. I remember finally settling into my chair and Injust started to shake. I hadn’t thought about what was going on and it started to hit me as I sat there. All I wanted to do was cry.
I got to Brisbane airport and met my sisters there. They had managed to get on a flight out around the same time as me, just with a different Airline. Their flight left 30 minutes before mine did. We still had about 7 hours of travel ahead of us, as Dad lived 2 hours South of Perth. A cousin and her husband ad organised to be at the airport and collect us and take us down to him. Before I hopped on the flight, I messaged the Stepmother and asked her to tell Dad that we loved him and were on our way over to him. To this day, we will never know if she passed it on or not.
I had a whole row to myself on the flight over. I couldn’t talk to anyone, I couldn’t eat, I was so riddled with Anxiety I just laid across all 3 seats. In shock of what was happening.
When I arrived, the girls and my cousin were waiting. My flight ended up being late about a half hour. We went straight to the car and headed down. It was rather quiet. We had never met my cousins Husband before, so it was rather an awkward feeling. There was small chit chat here an there, but it must have been just as awkward for them as it was for us.
We were about an hour and twenty into the trip when my phone rang. I answered it and it was the Stepmother. She rang to say that Dad had passed away 15 minutes earlier. The conversation was brief, not much was said. I’d mentioned we weren’t far away and we’d be there soon. I hung up the phone and had to tell everyone in the car that we’d missed him, he’d gone. The silence was earie then we all started to sob. Trying not to show too much emotion though and hold it for when we got to see him.
We arrived at the hospital and we were taken to where a few of the family members were. Dads brother and wife, the Step siblings and the Stepmother. To our surprise though, 2 out of the 3 step siblings had been given enough time to get there as the also lived interstate. They had been told to come, before his own children were. Even when we asked “what’s going on? Do we need to come?” With an answer of no, you’re just over reacting.
We were quickly briefed by our Uncle as to what we’d expect before we went in. My sisters went in first then I followed behind. Straight away the girls broke down with emotion, seeing our lifeless father lay there in the bed, tucked in neatly as if he were just sleeping. I was in shock, and was stone cold. We sat around him, the girls were crying over him on the other side. I just stand there. I had never seen a dead body before. I never had anyone close to me die. I just sat there an stared at him. I went to pick up his hand off the bed and hold it. It was so cold, and stiff. So, I had to shove my hand underneath his to get a grip. He looked so peaceful. His skin was milky white, his patchy complexion had all but disappeared. He was so skinny though. He had lost so much weight. The 3 of us just sat there and sobbed over him for what felt like forever, but was most of an hour. We didn’t talk much to the stepmother, she sat in the back of the room and just On looked. We weren’t even allowed privacy with him. What, scared we’d tell him something bad about his precious little wife?
After all that, we were taken back to Dads house where the rest of the family were. Nanna, Grandad, his sisters and everyone else that were at the hospital. We felt so alone. We just sat there by ourselves and didn’t talk. Our Grandparents semi comforted us at the door when we arrived, but that was it. No one else really gave any emotion toward us. I felt like a helpless kid without his parents, but in an adults body.
We were whisked back to Perth about 7am with my Granparents, who we were going to stay with. It would be a week before the funeral, and we had no say in it. We were just told to turn up.
I was so tired, I went straight to bed and slept. I Slept for a few hours. I couldn’t cry, I had to be strong for the girls. That was on the Sunday.
The next day, my sisters had gone to the local shopping centre to kill a bit of time. I stayed behind as I didn’t feel like doing much. My Dads younger sister turned up to see how we were all doing. We we all all at the dinner table having a cup of tea and chatting, when I got a call from my older sister. She was balling her eyes out in the middle of the shopping centre. I could hear my younger one doing the same. She had just received a call from our Mum to say that our Grandfather (mums dad) had just passed away suddenly. Old age, in his chair reading the form guide. I had to tell everyone at the table and ask my Aunt if she could take me down to the shops to collect them. I was in the car and she rubbed my back asking if I was ok. once again, I was in pure shock.
We pulled up outside of the entrance, and there were my sisters, crying their eyes out uncontrollably. Helpless as they couldn’t just leave on their own accord, they had to wait the whole time for us to turn up.
Death came twice that weekend. The first time it had appeared in our lives, and it arrived twice in one hit. One that we knew was coming, and one that was unexpected.
Dads funeral came, we attended but once again felt like helpless kids, even though we were adults. We received no real comfort from anyone as we weren’t close to anyone. It was one of the hardest weeks of my life.
We flew back on the Saturday, and oh the feeling of having open arms waiting for you. Two of my best mates picked me up and took me to my Mums. Both giving me the biggest hug. I needed it the week before but didn’t get it. We got to Mums, where our whole family had been waiting. Each one of them grieving for the loss of our Grandfather but also waiting for us to turn up and comfort us. The hug from my Mum, who I didn’t even get to see before Dad, melted me and made me cry so hard. It was such a relief. Finally I got to relax, we’d made it back home.