I had returned home with my sister to be with mum as she was losing her partner of 55 years. My mum – well that is another story of a grand woman but right now my father was dying. He was lucky that we were there helping him through that journey as we had throughout his life. At times, he appeared confused, almost petrified of what was around the corner.
We nursed him until he took his last breath. And what a moment that was sitting on the bed watching him intently as he literally took his last breath almost simultaneously as a small tear rolled down the side of his cheeks. I wondered what words and feelings that tear might have conveyed. Then he was gone. All that remained was his body. We kept him home that night – all of us sleeping in the same room. My heart was heavy - I saw how broken my mum was at losing her beloved husband.
As I was sitting at the foot of the bed I suddenly noticed something I hadn’t in 30 years. A strange recognition flickered through me as I found myself saying, “I have my father’s feet.”
Later it dawned on me that in many ways we had “walked” parallel paths. Dad, like me, was the youngest in the family and also the only one to have gone to University. This was a major achievement for him given their poverty and hardship in India. Like me, Dad chose to leave his country of birth and make a pioneering journey - Fiji in his case - filled with trepidation but also oodles of hope and entrepreneurial spirit. He demonstrated determination, impeccable honesty and hard work as he made a life for his family earning four pounds a month and many mouths to feed.
But as I grew up, I realised that he was also fragile and vulnerable. He was magnificent and imperfect, like life itself. Being “a girl” I couldn’t really get close to any of this. I saw him suffer, with ripple effects on everyone else.
Sadly mother was so heartbroken, she passed away three months after dad died. I still miss my mum’s physical presence sometimes. I wonder how our relationship would have unfolded had she still been around? But for now, I continue to walk with my father’s soles. And all the way I'm warmed by my mother's heart - she couldn't be closer.