The Dim Light

The Dim Light — a true story by Gladys Hobson

The light grows dim


In the dim light of the bedside lamp, I stood by the pink-flowered curtains that were keeping at bay the dark miserable night, and looked across at my yellow-skinned father’s head lying on snow-white pillows. With yellowed eyes closed, gurgles of laboured breathing came out of his open mouth in some semblance of sleep — the sleep of the dying.
My eyes followed the shape of his body under the lightweight bed cover and I reflected on the skeleton it had become, with parchment skin so thin that his bed sores refused to heal. I didn’t want to see his emaciated body; it seemed totally wrong for a daughter to see her father naked, especially his private parts, but he’d asked for his bottle so he could urinate. I’d given it to him and he’d performed, quickly returning to sleep. I could only be thankful. I did not want to hear him moan or scream.
Tears welled up in my eyes and I became fearful of speaking lest he awake and I betray my sorrow. Here lay a once proud, well-built man. A man who’d faced life’s challenges — and there’d been many of them — with courage and determination. Maybe he hadn’t been a perfect father, and without doubt he’d often treated my mother like a doormat, but much outrageous behaviour could be excused by his frustrations when, for years, trying to work in spite of increasing physical handicaps and pain.
My stalwart father, now reduced to this — a helpless bag of bones enclosing a rotting inside eaten away by a spreading cancerous growth.
I knew the district nurse had inserted suppositories to quell his pain. I also knew that this could mean the end. For months his suffering had been severe in spite of the many codeine tablets he swallowed daily. We knew that the change in treatment would prevent his fight against death — two, maybe three days away, or so the nurse had said.
No one had spoken to my father about dying. We had not dared. I recall a friend telling me that my mother had told her that when my dad thought he was dying, she woke to find his hands around her throat. He’d said that he thought he was dying and he didn’t want to die alone. I didn’t think he would have carried it out — surely not. Maybe he needed to express his fear. Afterwards he would have sobbed with shame. That is what he did — fall into depression — when he’d allowed his emotions to lead him into dark areas of his soul.
Earlier, I thought his end had come. I woke my mother and together we stood over his bed. But Dad opened his eyes:
‘Why are you looking at me like that?’ he demanded with new strength in his voice. ‘Do you think I’m bloody dying?’
Then his eyes closed again and mother went back to her couch in the lounge to try and rest a little longer. I kept up the watch, for that is why I had left my husband in charge of our children. My mother, weary with sleepless nights, needed me to be there.
How I would have loved to sit on his bed and take his hand in mine; to speak to him quietly and tell him that I loved him. But no one ever spoke of death and dying, no one ever spoke of cancer. My dad had major problems with heart, lungs and a creeping paralysis — these things were obvious to him and everyone. He believed he was suffering from jaundice and no one, not even the doctor was prepared to tell him different.
Is this what it must be for another two days? With my mother, already suffering acute weariness of body and soul, fading away; and my dad struggling with only agony waiting for him should he wake before another administration from the district nurse?
Time to pray. Not aloud. And time to talk to my dad, not with sounds but soul to soul.
So I whisper from my heart, prayers of love, repentance and forgiveness. I pray that God will take him now, not tomorrow or the day after. But now, in the peace and quiet of His presence.
And I turn to my dying father. I remember my granddad had been a lay minister who had gifts of preaching and healing. Yes, surely he would approve of the healing found in a peaceful death.
‘Let go, Dad. Don’t be afraid. Granddad is waiting for you. He’ll look after you. We all love you. God loves you too. You can let go now. Let go, Dad, let go..’
Gurgling noises come from my father’s throat, shortly followed by a deep, deep sigh…

The valley of the shadow...


The light shines on in the darkness


The darkness has not overcome the light...

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One Response to “The Dim Light”

  1. Your Cancer Questions » Blog Archive » Colon Cancer Says:

    […] The Dim Light « Wrinkly Writers […]

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