What a week! But I had a hollow feeling as I drove away rather than the relief I might have expected to feel. I realised I’d taken on a state of alert and anxiety while in loco parentis. I’d had a taste of what parents must feel constantly, and enjoyed it.
With my sister and brother-in-law and their younger son due home any moment, I’d just taken Dom, the border collie, back to their house and done the last jobs: topped up the cats’ bowls, fed the fish, changed the bird’s water. And put away my nephew’s washing. Becoming familiar with where he keeps his undies and socks was not something I had anticipated.
His parents and brother were away on holiday and he was at home with a quiet week and lucrative work to look forward to. When he was unexpectedly admitted to hospital, I was suddenly doing the visiting and taking the dog home to my place.
An old infection had flared up again. Five nights in hospital and an operation followed. A lot of time for an active 18-year-old to be lying about. I took in his lap top and a couple of magazines and enjoyed my visits. The nursing staff were great, with back-and-forth banter, even as he endured the many changes of intravenous fluids.
Meantime, Dom kept guard at my gate and the chickens kept him in line if he ventured into their part of the garden – particularly after he ate their mash and one of their corn cobs. It’s funny to see a great border collie running away with chooks in indignant pursuit. Keeping him at the front of the house when he wasn’t inside seemed best, but meant I was always watching in case he squeezed through the fence or someone took a fancy to him. He’s a lovely, affectionate, well-trained dog, and a bit of a doofus.
Today, it’s just the aged mother and me and the chooks. I’ve collected up handfuls of dog fur from the carpet, washed the floors – and even cleaned the windows to use up the excess energy left from the adrenaline of being on alert. I can catch up on my reading. I can do whatever I feel like. But the hollow feeling was a surprise. It only lasted till the end of the street, but still.
Well done, parents!