I thought to myself while I was talking to him today, I’m really going to miss this guy, who I’ve been calling mate.
Some people will really pull on your heart-strings. Mate is one of those people. He’s really unwell, and his time is very limited, but he’s still charming the ‘socks off’ of all of the ladies. He’s always very polite, and well-mannered. I’ve been looking after him for the past week or so, and he has been deteriorating on an almost daily basis. He never complains and has never liked to cause a fuss. He’s a shy man, who doesn’t want to be a nuisance, I’ve had to almost beg him to ask for pain relief when he needs it. He has been through an awful lot of pain. It has improved since he came under our care, but it is still there. He has never complained, either before or after his illness was discovered.
Mate had been a hard-working man his whole adult life. He had only been retired for a week when he became unwell. He was diagnosed with incurable cancer some months later, when he finally went to see a doctor. You see, he had never needed to see one before, as he had kept himself healthy in order to keep doing his strenuous salesman job. He accepted his diagnosis and limited life expectancy probably better than most people would have. He says he didn’t feel angry that his retirement plans had been ruined. All of the trips that he had planned to take when he had finally become free of work, had to be abandoned. He just got on with life, and continued enjoying what he could, including using his TAB phone betting account. He continued to passionately follow the horse races.
He had to change rooms the other day, and when I asked him if he was all right with that, he told me, “It had been a really moving experience.” I try to do what I can for him, and keep him comfortable with medications. I found him some cold lemonade the other day and he enjoyed it. Today I tried to tune in the Trackside horse-racing channel, but I did not have much luck. He always tells me that I’m spending too much time on these non-medical things. I know how important they are to him, and I really do want to help. I wish I could do more, that there was a magic wand that I could wave and everything would be okay. But I know that there isn’t and that the best that I can do is to keep him as comfortable as possible.
Mate continues to fade away slowly. He now has very low energy levels and has difficulty following even his beloved racing channel. Instead he has been enjoying looking at his new view from the open windows. There is bright green grass, a few trees, a gentle cooling breeze, with a vast expanse of blue sky covering it all. He has started watching the birds flying past his window. Yesterday we talked about his photos; of his elderly mother and even more elderly in dog years, black poodle. Both of them lived to a ripe old age, poor Mate will never get the chance.
I shake hands with him and wish him a good day, as he thanks me again and again, “Thanks a lot mate,” he says. He is so polite. “It is a pleasure mate, really,” I reply. “You have a good day, and I’ll catch up with you again tomorrow. If you have more pain, I want you to ask for some medication okay, I don’t want you putting up with it.” We smile at each other, wave, and as I exit the room, I wonder if I will have the chance to speak and joke with my mate again.