It was about 3:15pm on March 7th. I’d been out on one of my regular pleasure trips on my bike, up the River Lea to Dobbs Weir, thence to Broxbourne and Hoddesdon… and I was just approaching Waltham Cross when I got a call from Maire O’Hare telling me my father had been hospitalized. I phoned the Mater Hospital for more details and passed them on to my mother. Yes, my father was in poor health, he had had a blackout and was in a state of confusion, but his condition was stable.
On March 9th I phoned for more news. My father’s condition had improved a little, but the hospital staff couldn’t say if or when he would fully recover.
The next update I got was on the morning of Friday, March 11th. My father was on dialysis but he had had his breathing tube taken out and he was still taking food. There was more grounds for optimism at 5:45 that evening when I got a text message from Dad. He said he was slowly getting better.
That period of hope didn’t last, however. At about midday on Saturday the hospital staff called me to tell me that Dad had taken a turn for the worse. They discovered an aggressive cancer, blood had seeped into his lungs and he probably wouldn’t get any better.
I was undecided as to whether I should go to Belfast to see him. I was told that he was in a confused state and I was afraid he wouldn’t recognise me if I came to see him. I also had the memory of my grandmother in the hospital a day or two before she died. I didn’t want to see my father in the same way.
But with a little coaxing from my relatives in Ireland I made up my mind. At 6:00pm I booked a place on the earliest flight from London to Belfast the following morning and I expected to arrive in the City Centre by 11:30am.
But tomorrow was too late. My father passed away at 9:00pm.