Sunday the 19th of February
I remember that day vividly.. It was just like any other Sunday. I was riddled with exam related anxiety, pacing the sitting room floor, my stomach churning. Dad sat in the sitting room, pounding on the keys of his battered laptop with vigour, working on presumably another new proposal. His newly bought square framed spectacles rested on the slope of his miniscule nose. He possessed a highly unusual fashion sense, one of the very few men I knew that could pull of a slightly crumpled shirt, a blazer with elbow pads, and still look fashionable. I sighed, and shuffled in circles around the kitchen, watching the sparrows fight over the last few remnants of bird feed left in the cracked container.
“You know those sparrows are actually getting fatter by the minute, I’m probably not doing them any favours, I know their favourite brand and all! “Do you want a coffee? I’m Like a barista now, I’m thinking of growing my hair into one of those little man buns”.
His slipper clad shuffle reverberated through the kitchen as he made his final coffee’s with his much loved machine. He had acquired the knack of making the perfect coffee, from the foam levels, to bean variety, everything was catered for. It was one of our favourite things to do, sit back and slurp coffee, talking about anything and everything. Dad now possessed the coffee machine he had always desired, a new television and his new fitbit “To monitor me sitting back and watching telly”.
This of course was very far from the truth, for never had I seen a man so passionate about his business, so bursting with vigorous enthusiasm, wanting to singlehandedly change the world. He dedicated his life to helping others, manufacturing medical devices for the earliest detection of numerous diseases. He was also involved in the marketing proposals to assist in the mass manufacturing of several other new products, and painstakingly reviewed hundreds upon hundreds of proposals and prototypes. Finally things were coming into fruition, falling into place. I had never seen him so happy.
My brother Sam and I sat on the couch beside him, as he flicked through his Spotify playlist on the large flat screen television. I frowned at him and told him in no uncertain terms how I was feeling. “I Can’t do it dad, there’s so much stuff to learn, five exams in three weeks, I’m doomed. What’s the point at this stage anyway, I still haven’t a job”.
Dad smiled at me whilst searching Spotify for motivational hits. “You always say this every time, yet you have always delivered! If I was a betting man I’d bet on you. Just go get ‘em give it your best shot and sure if it doesn’t work out you can always repeat can’t you. Quit worrying all the time will yeh?!” Sam requested “Eye of the tiger” and we both embarrassingly leapt around the sitting room, karate kicking to the beat. Dad laughed along with us, playing ACDC, Guns n roses, and panic at the disco (for my sisters benefit only )
When the sitting room emptied he played the music of his new favourite pianist chilly Gonzalles. “I like this one white keys, what do you think ?He plays only on the white keys but I like the melody. You know sometimes when I’m stressed I like to close my eyes and just listen to the sound of the Piano. Here you try it there now, I’m telling you it works!” He paused momentarily to gulp slightly cold coffee from a white chipped mug. “You need to stop comparing yourself to everyone else, remember the leaving cert? Yeh Beat them all! Believe in yourself.”I closed my eyes along with my father listening, feeling slightly less anxious. I linked the song on to other FE1 victims, maybe they would find it helpful too. I knew my dad was behind me, believing in me, when nobody else would. I knew I could do it.
The day passed slowly, I was chained to the desk in my sister Beth’s room making my way through pages upon pages of company law. We had our last supper together. Dad wasn’t all that hungry and wasn’t a fan of the desert. The family made their final outing to the beach, my father signalled through the car window that I should hop in. I had so much work I couldn’t afford to go. I wish with all my heart I had gone now.
They returned home around sixish. We huddled together in the sitting room, watching a program about some unfortunate hoarders in Florida, with a love of newspaper clippings and an unbecoming familiarity with racoon droppings. “There sure is heck is some racoons under them papers”. Dad had been gone a while..
An unusual sound seemed to be coming from upstairs, it sounded oddly like loud snoring. We all laughed wondering whether dad had fallen asleep, my brother bounded up the stairs to check. The sinister sound grew much louder, the sound of raspy rugged breaths, akin to a bear that had been speared in the lungs.
“DAD. DAAAD DAAAAAD”. My brother was shouting, my mother sprinted up the stairs desperately trying to break down the bathroom door to clutch my father who was slumped over the toilet grunting and screaming. I stood still as a statue, rooted to the spot, watching everything happen, aware only of the fast pace of my heart. I could barely breathe.
The house seemed to suddenly fill with people, neighbours, guards, para medics. All I could hear were the loud screams echoing down the hall. I was told to call the doctor, that it was an emergency. I did so with shaking hands. An hour passed slowly, the screaming seemed to subside. My brother clung to me with one hand, clutching his chest with the other. “Is dad going to die?”
No of course not. Mr invincible could not die. We could not exist without him, it wouldn’t be possible. I could not exist without him, we were interconnected, he did my thinking for me, we shared the same thoughts most of the time. He kept the family together. “Of course not Sam, its Dad, and he’s only a young man, they are going to look after him!”
When I witnessed him being carried down the stairs, bound to that stretcher I wasn’t so sure of myself. His arms hung loosely by his side, his head lolled back, the face expressionless. Like a puppet whose strings had been cut loose, his limbs flailed about. He looked through me, his eyes wide and glazed over. I waved frantically. “DA IT’S ME, ITS YOUR JESSIE”,
He could hear or see no-one. I took one final look at his stupefied expression as the ambulance doors were closed. I watched it pull slowly out of the drive and disappear round the bend, taking my poor father away from the home he had created for us. Sadly it would be the last journey he made. Mr invincible had fallen from his pedestal.