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dad's last words

When mum died , my brother and I took turns to look after dad in the old family home .. he had dementia , and could not be left alone ..

In the ensuing 3 years I grew much closer to him than ever in my life,

And shared my Christian faith verbally with him ( … just the once !! ) 


Awake at 3 AM

In the small bedroom at dad’s

That used to be mine

40 years on and mum gone


Dad with dementia wandering around

Wondering where mum is but she’s not to be found

“Dora ?” he says, as he looks into her room


Thinks she’s on holiday but isn’t too sure

Even though he is the one who found her dead

Just two nights before


Splendid oblivion? Or nagging doubt

Seems not to know same every night

Why are my boys here?

It’s so good to see them though


Several days down the line the penny drops

“She’s not coming home is she son?”

“No dad she’s not”


“OK that’s it then , yes I see

Are arrangements made do you need me?”

“ A lot of it’s sorted, dad, but yes you could help”


After a week or two

I feel a deep prompt in my spirit at night


“Dad, you know when you come through the door

And mum’s not there

And it’s all sad and lonely hopeless and empty ?


Well there is a door and on the other side

Is joy and peace hope and fullness

Light and life “


“I suppose you’re talking about Jesus Christ ! ”

“ Yes, I am , dad “


So that was it job done

And I left it at that


In the three years following these events

We grew pretty close

When David and I went to see him at the ‘place’

He would ask us why we’d come

In his mind he was working away

The job nearly done he’d be home in day, or so


The carers told us

He was messing with radiators

Yes, he had been a plumber and central heating installer

He thought he was in ‘digs’

A strange word for bed-and-breakfast

The food wasn’t bad

And yes the job will soon be done

But how had we found him why did we come?


Deterioration set in

Things got worse

Taking his clothes off living the curse

“Ernie’s gone missing again !”

Couldn’t be found

Scabbed a lift off a passer-by

Who brought him back when he realised


My wife played him a CD of a Welsh male voice choir

"How great Thou Art" - touched his heart, made him cry

On his birthday,

Brought him some cards and some sweeties

Took him 5 minutes to open each card

but there was something of a distant remembrance in his eye

Now he never said a word

Lost in his thoughts

Whatever they were


“Dad , do you want a jelly baby”


“ Yes , son “ he said


His last words to me, as he lay back on his bed


I do hope he opened the door


© John nuttall

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