Don’t go gently: OCD and ageing parents

Picture courtesy of Ed Gregory at:

My Dad collapsed 48 hours ago. After a series of diagnostic tests the doctors have concluded that he has mitral valve prolapse and an accompanying murmur. He informed me today that he would not be having it operated on and that I needed to accept his decision. My mum also told me that I needed to prepare logically for the fact that my Dad might die soon. Death might be a logical process, but preparing my emotions to respond logically is not.

My parents have been preparing for their deaths for at least 20 years, ever since my Dad was diagnosed with pancreatitis. Statistically he should have died within 7 years of this diagnosis, but he has lived for 20 years more than he was predicted and surprised all those medics who have looked after him. My Dad is the defender of life.

However, tonight I am not so sure that he can tough this one out. He might have fought off prostate cancer and got his diabetes under control, but the heart? I’m not so sure.

I wish that I had not been so unwell myself in the last 18 months, so that I could have spent more afternoons drinking coffee with my Dad in the village cafe. We always seem to talk best when we are there, when it is just the two of us and that has always been the case since I was young. By ourselves we discuss all sorts of topics and no subject is off limits, because we really understand each other. We are the same my Dad and I; compassionate, sensitive and kind.

So hearing my Dad tell me tonight that he would not have an operation that might prolong his life for another few years, came as quite a shock to me. I understand his decision, and respect his choice, but I want my Dad to live forever and now I know that he won’t.

I don’t want him to go gently, I want him to fight.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieve it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas


7 thoughts on “Don’t go gently: OCD and ageing parents

  1. I was so sad to hear of the illness of your dad but happy you have a marvellous relationship. This will go with you always and is a sound basis for so much of your eventual recovery . The love and empathy of loved ones is so essential. Kindest wishes Catherine xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. He will live in your memory. It’s not some trite thing people say – it really is true. I probably talk to my dad more now than I did when he was alive. I feel his presence more.
    And the most important thing for you to remember? He hasn’t gone yet.
    Sorry I was late picking this up. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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