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Tragedy

St Albans and London

In this blog's original appearance, on Travelpod, I wrote this retrospectively in January 2014, although I dated it to the day after the events happened. This was because I was not up to posting anything at the time.

This is something I truly hoped I would never have to write here. I don't know how to write it so I will just write what comes into my head.

Dad has died. My lovely warm kind loving Dad, always so generous especially with time and help, who despite a wide range of terrible puns could be very funny...

In the early hours of Christmas morning he lost consciousness and never woke up. He had a massive bleed in his brain which could not clot due to the cancer having spread to his liver.

There were only four of us in the house at the time; him, Mum, Dave and I. The paramedic was brilliant but he couldn't get Dad to open his eyes. I was there in the room while he was there so I saw how good the guy was. Then once backup arrived with the ambulance they carried Dad downstairs in a wheelchair and put him in the ambulance; Mum got in too and off they went to Watford. It was 5.30 am when I watched them depart, came back inside and went back to bed. I couldn't sleep at all. I was unbelievably glad that Dave was with me. We stayed behind to start Christmas dinner preparations, ring round to tell people what had happened, be here once guests started arriving and just hold the fort in general.

I found out later that Dad had some seizures in the ambulance. At least I know that since he had already lost consciousness by then, he almost certainly wouldn't have known about them. Nor, later that day when he was transferred to hospital in London and had emergency brain surgery, would he have been aware of that. He had gone already by then, really, in bed.

Mum came back home for a couple of hours to have some Christmas dinner and a rest. Then we opened some presents. There were twelve of us there by then. Although part of me had guessed that morning that Dad was not going to wake up again, Christmas dinner and present opening was a distraction and made another part of me start to override the other, convincing itself that everything was going to work out OK actually and Dad was going to come back at some stage. I'd be able to give him his special Montecristi (Panama) hat, for example.

So when Mum came in and made an announcement, having slipped out to ring the hospital and see how Dad was doing, it jolted me back to reality. The hospital had asked her if she was coming... indicating that it was now time to come and say our goodbyes. So that is what we did.

They had to wait for 24 hours before doing more brain tests, so we went back to London the next day (well, Mum stayed the night at the hospital; the rest of us went home and then came back). We arrived just in time for the consultant to come and tell us that the brain tests had told them what we had already guessed - there was no brain function left and only the breathing machine was keeping him going. Although I think we had all already guessed this, it was still horrible to hear. So we all said our final goodbyes to Dad before going home. The hospital was great and let us take however long we needed.

I love you Dad and always will.

Posted by 3Traveller 09:28 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london united_kingdom christmas dad mum st_albans Comments (0)

Unexpected trip home

St Albans


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This is the reason why I came home for a few days between 5th - 10th September.

Very sadly in the second half of last month my father was diagnosed with a brain tumour. A massive shock for all, but I was constantly kept in the loop via email and video chat - I am so unbelievably grateful that Google video chat exists - so the distance between Ecuador and the UK didn't seem so far, and when I wasn't talking to my family, teaching helped keep my mind off things. When teaching I could forget everything except the students and the lesson content.

Luckily the tumour was able to be removed, so he had the operation on the 9th. I managed to get some very short notice time off work to be able to come back to the UK for a few days before the operation. As you can imagine, it was wonderful to see Dad, Mum and rest of family again, plus Dave, who drove down from Manchester to see me. Dad was able to stay at home in the lead-up to the operation rather than at the hospital, which was great.

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I arrived in the UK after dark. The next day when I stepped out of doors I could smell autumn in the air. It had rained during the night and I could smell the earth and leaves. All it needed to top it off was the smell of bonfire smoke and it would have been perfect. Guayaquil doesn't really do seasons; from May to the end of November it's hot, humid but dry, and from December to the end of April it's even hotter and more humid and it rains. A lot. I have yet to experience the latter but from what my students have told me, the rain then is something to behold.

I picked blackberries at the Wick (a small piece of local woodland with a large field attached) and walked into town a couple of times for a look-around. Nobody had told me that two or three of the shops in St Peter's Street had been torn down! I turned the corner by the Blacksmith's Arms and gaped at the gap that had appeared. A hotel's going to be built there. I remembered seeing articles and arguments about a new hotel in the Herts Advertiser for months before I left the country in May, but didn't know it was actually going to go ahead.

On my second trip to town I took the opportunity to have some takeaway fish & chips, despite first being knocked sideways by the price. It was worth it! Other food I had over the course of my stay was a lovely slow-cooker beef stew, blackberry and apple snow (fruit topped with meringue and baked in the oven), lasagne, and chocolate chip bread and butter pudding with custard. Delicious.

I managed to visit Dad in hospital in London in the evening on the 9th, after he'd come round from the operation, before flying back to Ecuador the next day. The tumour was successfully removed!

Posted by 3Traveller 14:04 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london united_kingdom dad dave mum st_albans british_cuisine Comments (0)

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