Saturday, January 31, 2009


Poppy, J's father, is sleeping when we arrive in the ICU today, slumped to the side in a shaded room. When I tell him that Minks is with me, he opens his eyes wide and smiles the biggest smile in the world when he sees her face. We re-arrange the pillows, bring the back of the bed up, fix his gown, suction him. Minks rubs his head with a warm washcloth, and brushes his hair. Rosie, the nurse we've hired to help him out during the day, shaves him. He looks wonderful with apples back in his cheeks and chats away with his granddaughter by putting a finger over the hole in the trach. "He has a voice!" says Rosie, triumphant. "Give me that mirror" he says, and I hand it over. He glances at his reflection and touches the yellow feeding tube that has been taped to his nose, then says to me, deadpan "It's not pretty" and winks. But to us he looks gorgeous after the anaemic skin and white mouth of yesterday. He is smiling and chatting (haltingly, the best he can muster) about all the places he wants to go on cruises with Minks (Panama & Hawaii), J's new beard, the horses, and ignoring the tubes that are coming out of practically every orifice. It's sweet and amazing and I know he's doing it because he doesn't want her to be scared.

I must steal myself. We have some jolly Argentinians coming for supper. J has managed to wrestle a pork belly into the menu. Gotta love him, old Grizzly.

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