The Off-sider, generally known as Dad, sits with Dorey, holding her hand and sometimes singing. Since Dorey fell, was hospitalised and then moved into care seven months ago the song has always been “How much do I love you, I’ll tell you know lies, How deep is the ocean, How high is the sky, How far would I travel to be there where you are…..” and so it goes. He feels no embarrassment and frankly, by now, I’m over it too.
Each day he struggles to get dressed, to put on his braces, bend over to put on his socks and a special effort to tie up his laces. His breath is fast and shallow, his skin is pale, blue at the toes, puffy hands. Every step is a challenge as he leans into the wheelie-walker to make the daily trip to see the love of his life.
The Off-sider is cleaning out his stuff. He has cut a bit out of the local paper to let me know where he wants the furniture to go. He is sorting through the old photographs, throwing away bits that no longer have meaning, tearing up diaries and for all intents and purposes getting ready to die. He tells Dorey he has been talking to my deceased brother in his dreams and that Dave is asking how she is. He is reading the stories in the Watchtower that two dedicated women have left for him every month for the past 11 years. He has no religion, no hope of eternity or idea of any form of hereafter. The Off-sider has been living with kidney failure for about 15 years. Every report says it is just amazing he has survived this long. His focus to survive has been Dorey.
To the exclusion of all else this has been an amazing love.