Chloe started to put the shelves back into the fridge and tried not to think about the time she'd tried 'tough love' on her Dad. He'd been in rehab
and come out clean. He'd been going to a day care centre every day for several months and everyone was so pleased with him. Not even the
professionals had noticed that he'd slipped back into his old ways. All of his old ways, not just the drinking.
Eventually, he'd had to confess all because he'd run out of money and needed help. Sadly, he hadn't confessed enough and failed to tell the doctor
the extent of his problem. The doctor gave him a prescription for something or other that was supposed to clear his system, but Chloe's Dad had a
murkier system than the doctor realised.
Chloe started to cry as she remembered that morning when she, half asleep, had heard her Dad demanding that she phone for an ambulance. She didn't
want to do it. She was furious with him and was nervous about making a nuisance of herself to the long-suffering ambulance service. She'd sworn at
her Dad and told him that he'd caused his own problem so now he could damn well sort it out for himself.
But he couldn't use his hands properly and his fingers couldn't find the small keys on his mobile phone. 'Help me' he'd said 'I'm dying'. Something
about the urgency in his voice had caught her attention and she'd made the call and watched her Dad get carted off in ambulance yet again. And then
she'd gone to work, as if nothing had happened, not knowing when or if she would see him again.
And still bitter because it had been at lunch-time a few days earlier when her Dad had told her what he'd been getting up to. She'd had to go to work
for that afternoon,too, and carry on as if everything was still normal.
Chloe choked back a few sobs as she thought of all this. She couldn't stop herself projecting back to that time. Her Dad had been sorted out and
thrown out by an unsympathetic hospital staff. The architect of his own problems, he'd been of little interest to them. They hadn't thought how
much he might mean to anyone else. They also hadn't sorted him out as well as they might have thought they did because Chloe had found him at home,
when she'd gone back there for lunch, feeling very poorly and in need of yet another ambulance.
What a dark day that had been. But worse was to come. A few days later she had seen her Dad coming out of the bathroom minus his shirt. She'd
noticed two bare patches on his chest where the hair was missing. She'd asked him what had happened. And he'd told her that in the ambulance the
other morning - the morning, she remembered, when she'd gone to work resenting him for all the trouble he'd caused – he'd had to be revived with
electric paddles because his heart had stopped.
Chloe forgot about the fridge and went into her room. She hugged herself and paced slowly round the bed. She didn't dare fall onto it and weep. She
knew that if she did that, she'd never stop.
She felt cold and small. She tried to remember the happy times they'd had together over the last couple of years. Her Dad had straightened himself
out and they enjoyed each other's company more. Every day they lived with the knowledge that he was a sick man. Every day, she worried that it would
be his last.
But she knew what conditions she had expected to kill him. And now, out of the blue, was another problem. Something unexpected and, being her Dad,
it had to be potentially dangerous. He never did things by halves.
Chloe felt her knees start to buckle, and she felt that odd little pain in her chest. She sat down and screwed herself into a little ball in the big
old armchair in the corner of her bedroom. Her Dad had an hereditary heart disease. Key word: hereditary. She had it, too.
She knew when her Dad was in pain because she'd feel the squeezing in her own chest. The first time it had happened was before she'd even moved in
with him. She'd felt a hand clutch her heart and squeeze and squeeze. In some ways, having the same condition created a bond between them and it had
made her more determined to care for him.
Chloe tried to dry her eyes. It was pretty certain that her Dad would be the first to go, leaving her alone with his legacy. For the umpteenth time
since they'd been re-united she tried to close the door on the thought.
She didn't know how she'd cope on her own. The years that she could have spent finding a partner and settling down to start a family had been spent
with her Dad. She looked across the room and saw her reflection in the mirror. How faded she looked, worn out after years of worry. Years of empty
All those times her Dad had promised to clean up his act. She used to believe him at first, she thought he really intended to do something about his
problems. She'd smile and be encouraging. Then, nothing would be done. There was always an excuse so she'd stopped believing him. But she never
let on, she always behaved as if she expected him to do as he'd promised. She thought about the ups and downs, the hope and disappointment.
And that terrible time when he'd let everyone down and nearly died doing it.
And now, now when he really was back on track, he'd become ill. With a condition that neither of them had foreseen. She'd always suspected that he'd
had a death wish, even all those years ago in the squat. Somehow, she wasn't a good enough excuse for him to keep on living.
She tried to pull herself up, tell herself it was probably nothing serious. Even if it was something that needed treatment there was no need to
assume that it was deadly. Except, this was her Dad. Whatever it was had to be serious. That was the nature of the beast.
Now here she was, cold and huddled in a chair, waiting for him to come home. Like all those other times she had waited for him. Never knowing when
he would be coming through the front door. Dreading to hear whatever news he had to tell her. She tried to comfort herself with the thought that at
least she didn't have to worry about him coming in drunk, he'd stopped doing that. But she could never be completely sure.
Even now, she'd watch him carefully when he came home after a short trip out by himself. She'd listen to his tone of voice and watch his movements.
She'd remember the one clue all that time ago when he was pretending to be free from 'the influence'. He'd come home and had that shaky, tell-tale
tone to his voice and she'd dismissed it. She'd trusted him and had not believed the evidence of her own ears. She wondered what would have happened
if she'd confronted him.
Sadly, she knew it would have made no difference. He would have lied, been cross with her, maybe he would have sulked for a few days. She knew she
would have been sorry for bringing it up.
She'd read articles about 'enablers' and had tried so hard not to be one. She thought of the fine line she trod, keeping her Dad from living and
dying in the gutter but unable to save him from all the excess and self-indulgence.
By the time she'd found him it was too late, so much damage had already been done. All she could do was to try and slow him down. She couldn't stop
him from harming himself any further, even his diet was cholesterol-ridden, it just seemed to be her job to slow down the process of
She was still still sitting shivering when her Dad came home. She listened as he turned his key in the lock. No fumbling, no dropping anything. He
must be ok.
She dragged herself out of the chair and went to ask her Dad for his news with the same mixture of hope and trepidation that she always had when he'd
been out doing something out of the ordinary.
Her Dad was cheerful, the hospital doctor seemed to think there might be a small blockage, maybe a little tear in his intestine. Not too much to
worry about, but he'd see his own doctor in a few days and get some tests.
Chloe went to make the tea. Everything was alright for now. For now. She'd have to hang on until her Dad saw the doctor. Just a few days, though.
She could manage that.
And so, in a few days, her Dad went to the doctor and had a sample analysed. But there were some small abnormalities. Chloe went on the internet and
researched as much as she could with the little information her Dad had given her.
It didn't look too bad at first, maybe just the gall stones that the doctor now suspected. But Chloe was never one to accept the easy answers and
she'd delved a little deeper. Following links until she'd found that last devastating piece of information – the condition could possibly be due to
heart failure. She read about the chambers in the heart and the valves, what they were supposed to do and what could happen if they didn't do their
job properly. She kept reading until she wept.
Her Dad had another appointment with the doctor, but it wouldn't be for another three weeks. There would be more tests and she didn't know how long
it would be after those tests before they got an answer as to what his condition actually was.
So she'd have to wait. As she'd had to wait so often over the last decade, for some ghastly news about her Dad. And she had to live with the
knowledge, too, that he was in pain and trying not to show it.
Of course, she'd forgive him again. She always forgave him. She'd still love him. She always loved him. She'd find a way for them to live a 'normal'
life, as if he wasn't sick. She always did that, too.
Even though he'd wrecked his body and found it uncomfortable to live in. Even though, if he was uncomfortable, she was uncomfortable – she forgave
him. Sometimes she'd wondered if he thought she was getting complacent and gave her these scares just to see if she still cared about him. She'd
forgive him for that, too.
She'd spent her childhood without him. To her, he'd been that slightly glamorous young man in the old photographs, looking lost even in his group of
friends. He'd looked so desperately as if he needed someone to find him and save him. Neither of them would ever have expected her to be the one to
Now, here they were, he old and grizzled and she a shadow of what she might have been. But Chloe knew there was only one thing she would never
forgive her Dad for – if he should leave her forever. She comforted herself with the thought that he wouldn't get far without her. She knew how
much her own life had been shortened simply by coping with her Dad, he'd only have to look behind him and she'd be just a few steps away. She
wouldn't keep him waiting.
edit on 19-11-2011 by berenike because: (no reason given)