Coincidence ?


I think back to when he passed. I was there.

In those final weeks he diminished rapidly, though at time I didn’t realise. Some heart problem brought him to the hospital, his spirit was already ebbing. He’d become increasingly obnoxious to his wife, my mum, the fine principles he espoused and demonstrated publicly were less and less evident in his dealings with his closest family. He was tyrannical insisting on Brands Chicken Essence only for sustenance, little pots of concentrated jelly from the rendered down frames and juices of chickens. It was a difficult product to find in normal groceries, but it what he wanted. Was it this food choice and a poor heart that lead to hospital for a second trip after an initial scare? Who knows? In hospital such a diet was not always possible and could be snuck in twixt hospital food. Food which nowadays would be decried as culturally inappropriate for this clearly Chinese man.

The time in hospital passed slowly. Multiple wills on scribbled on scraps of A5 notepaper. Notes of instruction scrawled in the paper margins in Chinglish phrases for the instruction of executors, sister Alma and Philip Young, a steadfast friend from the Chinese Presbyterian and Methodist Church. These executors had been constant before Philip was usurped and eldest brother Harry installed. A fateful decision for me as it turned out later.

My visits were frequent, squeezed between cramming for final exams, and then final exams. Times blurred. As blurred now as it was then.

His body was massively weakened, not eating does that. With barely any solids, zero exercise, he was fading away. Unable or unwilling to rise from his bed his tummy still rumbled fearsomely resulting in explosive diahorrea.

“Get a box or something!” he scowled as I stood there with him on coincidence day.

I couldn’t understand, didn’t move quick enough till he hissed, “Now!”

The sweetly faecal odour wafting from beneath the cotton sheets helped me understand the urgency.

A tissue box on the metal bedside table was pressed into duty.

I tore at its edges to make a pan. The excess tissues spilt to the scrubbed linoleum floor as I raised the bedsheets. Dad’s emaciated body startled me barely skin and bones. The muscle was mostly gone, the fleash soon would. Easily I lifted, pushed, then manoeuvred him onto the makeshift cardboard pan, then folded the box edges kinda upwards again for containment then emptied the contents onto the orange peel scraps in the metal grey rubbish bin.

“I’ll call nurse,” I said.

His eyes lolled back in resignation or disappointment.

“I’ll go now and see if I can find someone. “I said

I looked back for approval to go. I didn’t need to. He’d left already.

I guessed he was dead but having never seen a dead person I needed someone’s confirmation.

Looking back now I could understand why he had wanted to die at home. The public humiliation of it all, even in extremis. I hurried out through the wide-open ward double doors and into the corridor to get a nurse. Somehow, I found one explaining,

“I think my Dad’s dead.”

Did the words make it real? They’re words you say few times in your life. It was the 23rd December. A decade and a half later, on the same day, first born Nick would arrive.

The days are now conflated, their significance confuses with its symmetry.

A Coincidence?



  1. says:

    It is really sad to see people you love change and go down hill so quickly. Makes you think about your own inevitable demise!Steve 

    1. davidatqcm says:

      Yes Steve, makes the Socratic dictum ’bout an unexamined life being not worth living pertinent.

Leave a Comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s