He was 84. He had been sick for a long time with his liver and recently had his gallbladder removed. He was tired and grumpy as he struggled to make sense of the illness. He was tired of taking medicine and being unwell. It was a far cry from the strong funny man that used to make his family laugh.
As a father when he made up his mind to do something he would always follow through. Like the time he decided to take a night class in pruning fruit trees. He would come home from class and prune all the fruit trees which were quite substantial. The trees all had a slight lean to them and his family was not convinced he passed that class but the trees bore great fruit.
He decided he wanted to become a welder so he enrolled in a night class and completed the course. His family thought it was an extension of his pruning class because he did some welding maintenance around the fruit trees. When he wasn’t watching, his children used his welding hat to play Darth Vader in Star Wars but he used to laugh when he thought they couldn’t see him.
It was early morning when the phone rang and she knew immediately something was wrong.
It was her sister and she sounded panicked.
“It’s Dad, he’s collapsed, mum found him on the floor of the bathroom. I changed his pyjamas and called the ambulance. Can you come?”
She dressed quickly and within 10 minutes arrived at her sister’s house. Her sister Tab` looked pale and scared, Mum looked worried and Dad looked very grey.
They sat waiting for the ambulance. It arrived and the paramedics moved the father into the ambulance. The driver looked at the two sisters and said “one of you should come with him”. For a moment their fear made them indecisive.
“Quick,” said the ambulance driver.
“You go,” said Om, “I will get Mum dressed and wait for the babysitter,” who was five minutes away.
“Mum and I will meet you at the hospital we will be 10 minutes behind you.”
The sitter arrived and Om and her mother jumped in the car and drove quickly to the hospital which was 20 minutes away.
As she was driving she got a call from her sister “hurry he’s going”
“Tell him we are almost there, hold on,” said Om
She parked the car and wheeled her mother into the emergency room. He was still alive but only just. “We are here. Mum’s beside you.”
Mum took his hand and talked to him for a couple of minutes and said the traditional Samoan farewell,” Have a good journey,” then he took his last breath.
“I’m so sorry for your loss,” said the doctor and held Mum’s hand briefly before he left the room leaving the sisters with their parents. After all the flurry of activity of nurses and doctors trying to help their father, it was silent apart from the occasional sniff as the three women shed tears for a father, husband, and family.
The silence after birth and death was not so different. The relief that it was over made it bearable.