So we arrived in Spain on Saturday evening and met my Dad at the airport as planned. First and foremost he looked really well. His hair has started to grow back and on face value you would not look at him and think of anyone who was ill let alone someone that has gone through 40+ sessions of treatment and months of the unknown. He just looks like the Dad I knew from earlier this year before the ‘C’ word was dropped on him. His memory is a little questionable as he just seems a little.… forgetful almost in some way but I think this is just down to his age more than anything as well as everything he’s been through.
Other than this though he is plodding on quite merrily and whilst he may not be back to full strength, he’s in quite a good place. He never needed to have his food blended which was a concern following the Radiotherapy and his skin is staying healthy so he isn’t needing to apply creams constantly as he feared. He keeps out of the sun which gets to him at times but he knows that this is for the best in the long run. It seems that through my Mums constant badgering but most importantly her love, his own self-awareness and all of our gradual understanding into the world of Cancer I think things are looking good.
Sunday is a day of rest in Spain so planning what to do on Day 1 was always potentially going to be a challenge. One thing David and I have wanted to do for a while though was to explore Xativa Castle, as we have been visiting the area for near on 8 years and have never been. My Dad seemed up for it and so we headed off around 11am in the morning. Having bagged himself a pensioner entry price somehow as it wasn’t even advertised we made our way to the Roman side of the Castle first. In hindsight our choice of tourist attraction was questionable as there was much more ‘climbing’ than we had planned. Having eventually reached the highest point of this side of the castle we could tell he was a little out of breathe. We did take our time but he never once complained though we kept a close eye on him. We have to remember though he is almost 71. I think a little breathlessness is not necessarily an unexpected thing at this age.
We saw some incredible sights though and explored all the different areas from Luis Crespins final resting place to The Borgias family private salon as well as got to play with the Daggers and cannons in the armoury. We also saw a Knights “Chainmail” suit which my dad said was one of the first letters sent by Royal Mail….. bah dum.
The visit took around 2 hours which we hadn’t expected as the Castle grounds were much more scenic than we had first appreciated. Certainly worth a visit. Next we made our way down in the Xativa town itself. Our sole intention of this part of the day was coffee. Find a café, settle down and chill. It was also a good time to do some essential catching up and seeing how things truly were.
He reminisced about the time he spent in hospital and one of the things that he still thinks of now was some of the illusions he had when first admitted. It’s difficult to place a label on these so called illusions as unless you have been through it yourself you can only really surmise what they might have meant.
The one that stood out mostly for him though was the night that he went for a wander around the other wards and stumbled across the Messiah. What he saw was the Messiah blessing the other patients, and whilst he doesn’t fully understand what was going he wanted to know why he wasn’t visiting my Dad only to be told he didn’t understand him either and waved him on. Was this a near death experience, a passing close to the white light, the mind playing tricks; who really knows? All we do know is that this has remained a memory that my Dad has not forgot. My thoughts of the ‘illusion’ are that this was the Messiahs way of saying that now was not my Dads time, hence he waved him on. A little on the silver lining and fluffy white cloud line of thinking but works for me and seemingly has worked well for my Dad.
The afternoon saw my Dad and I cook a Sunday meal ‘together’. Yep, both of us in the kitchen at the same time. The meal was great though with boulder sized potato chips, seasoned & perfectly cooked chicken and some veg to show our willingness at getting our 5 a day.
In the evening we just settled around the house and began to watch ‘The Life of Pi’. My dad then asked if we had any ‘chips’ to go with this. He’s pretty much never more than a heartbeat away from a wise crack though still amuses himself even if the rest of us do just roll our eyes.
Day 2 and the temperature surprisingly is not as warm in comparison to England as we had hoped. Its peaking at 15c which I get is much warmer than home but we wanted the tropics. It actually feels quite cold. So today we went to Alzira but thankfully not to have to visit the hospital. We instead went on a food/shopping mall adventure – man style! Each shop we stayed in for less than 5 minutes and pretty much knew if there was anything worth buying. None of this shop until they chuck you our malarkey. We dragged the time out though by calling in for a couple of coffee/tapas pit stops though this was also my canny way of making sure he was taking in some liquid rather than none at all.
This afternoon (Monday) sees me writing this blog, my Dad pottering around in the garden and David trying to breathe some life back into the cars dodgy steering. It’s quite nice doing normal mundane stuff without needing to make too much of each minute passing by. I think later we are heading into Canals for a late night wander round.
All in all though the time spent here so far has been good and if nothing else has given me a confidence booster as to how things are. In June my Dad was given a 6-12 months prognosis. We are close to 6 months now. In one sense I should be worried but I know some other friends who have gone through similar and 3-4 years later and life is still going on at a good standard.
I can’t really tell what the future holds for my Dad in terms of what’s next but I am extremely proud of him. His attitude, his energy and his sheer determination. He has battled through Chemo and Radiotherapy admirably and shown that whilst some side effects do creep in, they are not always guaranteed. It also goes to show that being strong on your own is one thing though having a strong sense of loyalty and love around you certainly helps to make the battle easier. My Dad loves his family and I can tell even now with just a couple of days apart my parents miss each other dearly. Absence does make the heart grow fonder and the time apart will be a good re-energiser for them both. For David & I though it’s T-Minus 4 days until the return!!! ;o)