So much can change in twelve months. It was this weekend, one year ago, that dad had his heart attack and we worried that we might lose him.
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I was scared. We were all scared. The days dripped past. Dad got to Papworth and had stents inserted in an artery. He changed his diet: radically and religiously. He started walking daily and cycling often. His fitness improved week by week. He observed the world around him and learnt the details of the fields and changing seasons around his home. His cholesterol levels improved and his girth receded.
Advance to Mayfair.
There was the joy of becoming a grandad in May. There was the excitement of welcoming my sister back from New Zealand in August. There is the prospect of a second grandchild any day now. Some things ended and new things began.
Pay School fees of £150.
Some things surprised us. Dad was not sure about travelling at first, but took journeys around the country, including a refreshing holiday we all took to Herefordshire in May. Emotionally he was a different person. Reflective in a new way. Grateful for new details. For a time we thought that the encouraging, positive dad we had always relied on had gone for good. He came back.
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Relationships have strengthened. I am still learning more about my dad. This week I learnt how to cook pot roasts and Hungarian goulash from him. I always assumed he cooked in the same way I do: look at the ingredients you’ve got and throw in extra things if they might go out of date. No. My dad is remarkably similar to my husband (the theories must be right, or maybe it is a Cambridge thing). Dad makes sure he puts the right ingredients into his cooking. And he knows what works and what doesn’t: why you would put two onions into goulash rather than an onion and a leek; why you wouldn’t put mushrooms in. Less is more. The right ingredients matter. How to get the right amount of liquid, or when to add things. I learn to cook by trial and error. I am amazed at how much my dad (like my husband) will refer to reliable cookbooks for advice and to work out the principles behind cooking. Of course, dad is now much more aware of the implications of what he eats.
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This weekend marks another event – his younger brother turns 60 and all four brothers and wives are meeting to celebrate. Two lots of threescore. It will do dad good and will be a positive time.
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I don’t believe any of this is down to chance. I believe God has graciously given us this year, and I for one am incredibly grateful for it. We’ve been around the board a few times, but we know that each day is precious.