On January 3rd 2012, at about 10:30am, my father died peacefully at home.
Shortly after my last post here, his condition noticeably deteriorated, which put any thoughts of wargaming, however small scale, right out the window. We managed to get a referral to the Macmillan Cancer Support team who were able to mobilise all the nursing support that we needed so desperately, and suddenly we were getting more nurses visiting in a day than we'd seen in the previous year.
As Christmas approached it became clear that we were no longer treating Dad to get better, but to make his final days as comfortable as possible. He became too weak to walk any distance safely, but too confused to remember that fact, needing 24hr care and attention (on the plus side, as a result my Christmas day was 96 hours long)
He ate a little Christmas dinner, then a little Boxing day dinner. The days ticked around and the cough that had weakened him so much and we'd thought was beaten, started to return. On New Year's Eve a GP, against the judgement and wishes of myself and the nurses caring for him, decided Dad needed to go into hospital to investigate the cough. Once at the hospital, the doctors quickly ruled that there was nothing for them to treat and agreed to a Rapid Discharge to get Dad home as quickly as possible.
He came home on New Years Day, unconscious on a stretcher. We sat through the night, "watching" his favourite TV program on DVD together (an old show called "Out of Town", all about country life). A couple of times he opened his eyes and showed signs of awareness, but was unable to speak.
When the district nurses arrived, I stepped out of the room to let them change the medications in his syringe driver. As they worked on him, one moment he was breathing, the next he wasn't. It was as peaceful as anyone could hope for.
Now... I try not to put too much non-wargaming detail in this blog. I know other bloggers who put in a lot of tangential stuff about their life that only marginally affects gaming (usually by disrupting it!) I could have just put "My Dad's died, the funeral's tomorrow, I'll not be wargaming or blogging till things have calmed down a bit." But I wanted to make one, very non-wargaming point.
Dad was, in the end, put on "the Pathway", which received quite a bit of bad press here in the UK a couple of months ago. Now many people feel strongly against this, and any sort of "management" of someone's death. Some feel it treads dangerously close to euthanasia, while others cynically use the issue to score political points by invoking "death board" strawmen.
Bollocks to all that.
Last year my mother died with no planned end-of-life care. She died alone in hospital because we had no support to take care of her at home. Having seen both a managed and an unmanaged end-of-life, I know which one I want when my time comes.
As for wargaming, expect to see a resurgence in the coming spring. The next month or so is going to see the world turned upside down, as having been focussed 100% on caring for Dad I need to get back out into the real world, get a job and get a real life once again. But with a whole house to myself now, there'll be room once again for a wargames table to go up somewhere, and that lead and resin mountain in the man cave will provide a much needed distraction.
Thanks to everyone for your support over the last year. Stay subscribed - I'll be back before you know it with some slightly lighter-hearted wargaming nonsense.