This is one of those personal posts. Andy’s postal ballot arrived in the post on Thursday, and I took it to the hospital for him to fill in. He’s very poorly now, with constant infections. The consultant has said that they suspect he has an infected cyst in his lower abdomen. Usually they’d treat it surgically, but he’s too weak and frail. Even if he could cope with the procedure, it would only get him back to the condition he was in when he was admitted to hospital after his latest stroke, and then he’d only come down with yet another infection.
So no more poking and prodding, we need to allow him to go. He’s getting close to the end now – at the very best it’s only a couple of weeks away and perhaps not even that. And that estimate is based on nothing more than my wishful thinking. The important thing is that he’s comfortable, he’s not in pain or distress. The staff at Lightburn hospital have been fantastic with him.
It wasn’t a difficult decision to tell the consultant to stop active treatment, to put him on the do not resuscitate list and to allow him to slip away. When he had cancer some 15 years ago, we knew he was going to recover from it, but we discussed end of life care and funeral plans. He said then he wanted to be cremated, and he wanted a druid to officiate at his funeral. This was in Spain, where the funeral is usually the day after death. “How am I going to find a druid in Spain at 24 hours notice?” I asked. “In the Yellow Pages?” he replied. But he also told me that he wanted to be allowed to go in peace, without being attached to tubes and pinging machines that wouldn’t get him any better.
So it was easy now. I didn’t have to make a decision. I just had to tell the consultant when she asked me to make a decision. It helped so much that I knew what to tell her, and that I only had to relay his choice to her. And I’ve even found a druid for him.
He was determined to vote, but his grasp is weak and he struggled with the pen. It took great effort to produce an illegible scrawl that I can only hope the returning officer will accept as his signature. And then he put his X in the box marked YES, dropped the pen and lay back, exhausted with the effort.
As he signed it struck me that this is probably the last thing he’ll ever sign. The last time he’ll ever put his name to anything. Going from this world in the knowledge that his final act was to deliver an almighty kick in the nuts to the British establishment. He’ll like that. He was a proud working class London lad and socialist to his core. He put his name to a vote for an independent Scotland. It’s his legacy to me, to my family, to our friends, to all the people who showed him love and support and welcomed him into the Scotland that became his home.
I posted his vote on the way home. He’s not ever coming home, but he’s not gone. I’m in the limbo inbetween.