Fragility

It is a warm and muggy summer’s day. We are having a short family holiday at a gorgeous surf beach not far from my family home. I have a small family here in this country. Which suits me just fine.

Today I woke early and hid for a while in my bedroom before coming out to grumpily make coffee and make nice. I love them dearly, but they are exhausting, a combination of me being an introvert and normally having the luxury of as much alone-time as I please.

Terrible jazz music, my father’s choice, is playing loudly in the apartment we are staying in. My sister is cooking dinner early, it smells like onions and herbs. My niece is quietly and happily reading a book. It is a lovely domestic scene.

I am looking out on the surf, the beach calm now after a drama involving a rescue by jet ski, the arrival of the surf life saving helicopter, the beach closure, and an ambulance. Now it is as if nothing ever happened, no hints of that terrible fragility, and I really hope the receiver of all that attention is okay, but there is no way to tell.

Earlier I took a walk around the headland with my sister. It is so stunningly, unbelievably beautiful here, I feel incredibly lucky.

We saw dolphins playing in the surf. I have really only ever seen that once before in my life, also here, on this island. They flew right towards surfers, leaping and playing, and not stopping when they reached those few lucky board riders who had ventured out that far, but getting right in amongst them. Pure joy.

We spied turtles, rare to see them around the coast. First one, then another, and yet another… maybe 5 or 6 in total. We were ridiculously excited.

We headed down to the beach after the walk, sweating lightly. We stripped down to our togs, and leapt into the surf, full of the shock and pleasure of the cold, squealing and laughing like when we were kids.

It’s like everything is normal, though maybe everything is a little brighter today, a little sharper, we smile a little wider, laugh a little louder.

Yesterday our Dad told us that he has bowel cancer. He will have a relatively small operation on 2nd January that has a 50-80% chance of success, odds that give me some comfort, even though I don’t trust them. If that doesn’t work, his only option is a horrifically invasive operation that has an aftermath that will significantly reduce his quality of life. He won’t do it. I don’t blame him one bit.

I really want to say some terribly cliché thing about love and family. But really what I am thinking is that we haven’t had a family holiday for a long long time, and even though I sometimes find it difficult to be around these people who I love, I am lucky to have them, and glad to be here with them.

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32 Comments

  1. My mom was diagnosed with bile duct cancer a little over a year ago. She’s progressed to the point of being in hospice care and likely won’t make it to the New Year. Along the way there have been lots of words of comfort, but there’s been piece of wisdom that’s helped me. It came from my therapist. “She’s going to do this her way.” It sounds like your father is strong-spirited, and I’m sure he’ll do it his way too, whatever that means for him. And the cliche things about love and family – I’m learning that they’re true. In any case, I’m so sorry your dad, you, and your family are going through this. I wish you all the best cliches and more.

    1. Oh, that is heartbreaking, thank you so very much for taking the time to comment and to share your very personal story.

      And yes, your therapist is right, and it *is* a strong statement, and the truth. The doctors were pushing for the big operation straight out of the gate. He told them he wasn’t interested, good for him (especially as he’s of that generation where doctors are gods and usually beyond questioning).

      I wish you and your family all the cliches also, and I am sending positive thoughts your way.

      Ferns

  2. Ferns, enjoy the company of your family, love them and support them through this challenging time. You too will gain support from them. Enjoy your holiday. peter

  3. A touching, and beautifully written piece. I am so sorry to hear about your father’s illness, and am hoping for the best possible outcome for you and your family. Hugs and happy, peaceful thoughts.

    1. I appreciate your very kind thoughts (and am egotistical enough to also appreciate the compliment on my writing *smile*).

      I actually have no idea how long after the operation we will know the result… I imagine it won’t take long.

      Ferns

  4. A beautiful piece of writing, Ferns. Thank you for reminding me of how important it is to take stock and appreciate family, even when they are (and perhaps especially because they can be) difficult to be around at times.

    I do hope your father’s operation is successful, and my thoughts are with you.

    1. Thank you for the compliment and for the lovely thoughts.

      I laughed at the ‘especially because they can be’ qualifier on being difficult. I do find myself speaking to them as if they are children sometimes (and only one of them is an *actual* child) because they tend to bicker and it drives me mad.

      “I don’t care WHO started it, just stop it!”

      *laugh*

      Bless ’em.

      Ferns

  5. I do not blame your dad one bit for saying that he won’t try the only other option. Anyone might say the same. I might say the same. I hope that the doctors hear your dad and concentrate on his first option. Your dad need not think more about more options one way or the other – not at this stage. I hope that he will not need other options at all. That is I hope that the first option will fix everything and soon make your dad well once more.

    1. I really hope so too, and I am not thinking too far ahead to ‘what ifs’ because that stuff will make you crazy. Thank you so much for your comment, Satan.

      Ferns

  6. I’m very sorry to hear the news, Ferns.

    I commend you for supporting your father in his decisions to live life his way, and I wish him the absolute best for his surgery.

    Enjoy your time together, and thank you for reminding us to do the same.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement and positive thoughts.

      We watched our mother struggle with her deteriorating quality of life before she said ‘enough’. None of us would wish that on anyone, it is heartbreaking.

      Fingers crossed that it’s completely irrelevant!

      And we did have a really lovely time. I’m heading up there again for Christmas day. Presents and champagne and damn home made chicken wings that they had better appreciate!!

      Ferns

  7. Today I woke early and hid for a while in my bedroom before coming out to grumpily make coffee and make nice. I love them dearly, but they are exhausting, a combination of me being an introvert and normally having the luxury of as much alone-time as I please.

    Ironically, this is another reason why I actually do wish you lived next door (or nearby). My wife’s family (and much of my own) is rather chattery and boisterous, and sometimes I just need to go find a corner and breathe.

    Anyway, hope you’re having a good holiday out there. Best wishes for the season.

    1. Heh! Yes.

      I’d totally let you have a corner. Of course you’d have to be naked and go there nose-to-the-wall… eh, details.

      Best wishes to you and yours also, Tom *smile*

      Ferns

  8. It’s good news about your dad!

    And it’s good news too that you keep me here on your site.

    As of course I am also a Doctor who is a really proper Doctor who’s really really proper and everything!

    Happy New Year!

    (Real proper) Doctor Satan

    Satan

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