Friday, 6 May 2016
May stories 2016/06
I'm glad my father died.
Not because he was ill, or blind, or incontinent, or lonely or just fed up with the paucity of his life. He was all these things and only a year into retirement, but the reason I'm glad he died was because it gave my sister her life back, and gave me a chance to alter mine in a way he would never have understood.
My sister spent the last six years of his life almost as a nursemaid. She was barely thirty, in a committed relationship and she couldn't move away because she was all he had. Surrogate motherhood had already fallen upon her too early when our mother died when I was fourteen. Our father had been unable to cope and she had to take over anything I couldn't; primarily the cleaning and the laundry, though I was able to cook when I got home from school. When I moved away to go to art school, she stayed local to look after him. She renovated the derelict house his parents had owned so she could live next door and when he became ill it was not unusual for her to go into his house, clean and dress him, change his bedding and wash the floors before setting off for her own job, then repeating the process on her return. I did the best I could from a distance, driving the sixty-odd miles home every weekend.
When he died, just two days shy of her birthday, she was finally able to relax. She went away for her first holiday in six years, got married, spent time with her new husband. She finally got to live her own life.
With the money from the eventual sale of the house, I changed my gender. I finally got to live mine.