It’s Day 2 of the WinterABC by Afrobloggers! Let’s go!
“Some stories start at the end. With doors closing” – Tryphena Yeboah.
When I woke up on Day 12 of Ol’man’s hospital admission, I must have been in a trance.
My morning rituals felt like a drag. My coffee didn’t give me a kick. I was going through the motions. My head was foggy.
He tested positive for the coronavirus. We were all made to test, yet for some reason, none of us tested positive. Not even Mama who shared his bed!
What kind of selective virus was this?
“We’ve come to notice that diarrhoea is one of the common gastro-intestinal symptoms of the COVID -19. And it looks like your fathers’ symptoms started that way. Right now, we are keeping him from getting dehydrated, we’re supplementing his oxygen, and we’ve put him on some antibiotics and steroids, while we monitor him and make sure the steroids don’t bring his sugars up too high. We can’t allow any visits, because he has to be in isolation.”
The doctor was sympathetic and confident. She was a smallish woman with a small upper body and very wide hips that gave her a slight waddle when she walked. She seemed to know what she was doing, and so we all just listened quietly.
I think what was worse than the fact that he was sick, was knowing that he was alone. Ol’man didn’t know how to be alone. If you’ve ever been taken care of by a Fante woman for over forty years of life, you won’t know how to be alone.
A Fante woman with refined taste and amazing food skills?! Trust me!
Of course, the nurses and doctors were there. But they didn’t know him. Didn’t know how to make his scalding hot ginger tea. How to rub his feet because they always got cold. How to coax him out of bed in the mornings. How to get the right mix of hot and cold water together for his tepid showers.
My father had grown up well. He didn’t have any of the stories of hardship that mama had. His parents had been comfortable. And of all of his four siblings, he had been the most pampered. Maybe because he was the last one. Or maybe because of his beautiful hair. As a child, he’d suffered some injury for which he had an X-ray of his head done. Since then, his hair had mostly been grey. Just like his father. Not all of it, but most of it. The black streaks in it made it look fashionable, as if he’d dyed his hair grey and put black highlights.
That’s where his name Ol’man came from. Right from middle school, everyone called him Ol’man. And it had stuck.
He met my mother first day of university and proceeded to show her ‘a good life’! He claims he knew right from their first year or law school that he’d marry her. They had been inseparable! Mama knew how to take care of him. She’d taught us how to as we grew up. But ultimately, she was that one person that did it so well!
So we feared that he wasn’t being cared for as well as he was used to. And the only time any of us left the house was when the doctors called about some medications or things he needed. Mama sent food every day. We were never allowed to see him. Our doctor friend would sneak us a picture or video of him when he could.
Mama tried to act strong, tried to act as if nothing was going on but she was on the verge of a breakdown. We could all see it.
So I woke up on that day, and after none of my activities made any sense, I started to paint.
I put my headphones on and blared some very loud afrobeats. I didn’t know what I was painting, and I didn’t know if it would be any good. But I knew that ever so often, when the grief in my heart was heavy enough, the canvas took it all, and made it into something beautiful.
Ol’man was discharged on day 18. We moved him into the room downstairs because he was still frail and didn’t seem to have the energy to walk up the stairs. He talked slower, and had to stop between words to catch his breath.
He started getting better. There was some mild fluid in his lungs that needed draining. It was a complication of COVID – 19.
Ol’man died on Day 28 after the first admission.
That day, my heart really broke
That day, Mama finally broke down!
What could possibly mend her?!