UTA50 – Part 4 – But first…

Really not prepared for this

Bradley and Ralph
Dear old dad

The day before I took leave my dad had a fall at his home. We visited him in hospital in Newcastle on the Saturday – an 860 km, 9 hour round trip – and had a long conversation. On Sunday his numbers worsened so he was moved to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), but by Monday his tests were slightly more promising.

But by Tuesday his condition had worsened. He asked to move from ICU back to a ward. I asked my sister if this was because of improvement or comfort… it was the latter! So we bundled the dogs in the car and raced immediately to Newcastle, arriving at 20:30 Tuesday night.

Too late, as it happened. I went to the ward and into the room. Dad looked just like he was asleep. I walked over and kissed him on his forehead. His hair was so soft! Such a strange and unexpected thing.

I mentioned to the nurse that my wife was outside with the dogs so naturally (I thought) I would swap places with her. “Bring them in”, said the nurse. “If anyone complains they can talk to me.”

It was quite a scene. My sister with her husband and three kids; the youngest in a wheelchair and a full leg cast stuck out in front. My wife and I with our dogs in a stroller. And Dad resting so peacefully. We stayed with Dad for a few hours, never feeling like we had to go.

As we were leaving the hospital my sister told me that as she visited Dad every day he kept his memory and his strength until the end. That thought stuck with me.

Newcastle, Canberra, Blue Mountains

Drove to Sydney for a quick nap at my sister’s house, then a 04:00 Wednesday start to return to Canberra with my wife, two dogs and deliver my niece to the ANU. A brief stop at home to pack the dogs’ things and take them the kennel.

Finally at home for more then a few minutes and for the first time I could think about what I was packing and check everything off in my mind. I had laid out my gear since the weekend but my mental checklist hadn’t been working. While I could buy anything that I had missed at the UTA expo, I hate buying things I already own. By Wednesday afternoon we were back on the road to Leura in the Blue Mountains.

Over 2000 km driven in three days.

Just 50 km of running to go.

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