Father's illness brought him to death's doorstep and then appeared to hesitate. We wondered each night, as we retired, if fate's final verdict would fall the next day.
Father was not in such pain as to distress those around him. On this point, at least, caring for him was not a burden. Out of caution, one of us in turn would sit with him through the night. The rest were free to retire to their own beds at the appropriate time. On one occasion I couldn't sleep for some reason, and I thought I heard a faint groaning from the sick room. I slipped out of my own bed and went to my father's bedside to check on him. It was my mother's turn for night duty, but I found her asleep at Father's side, her head resting on her bent arm. Father was resting still, as though he'd been gently placed into deep slumber. I made my way quietly back to bed.
My brother and I slept under shared netting. My sister's husband, who was family but also our guest, slept alone in a separate room.
"Poor Seki. Pulled away from home and stuck here for who knows how long."
Seki was my sister's husband's family name.
"He must not be so busy, to be able to stay here with us. I'm afraid it's hardest on you if this drags on too far."
"Hardship or not, I have no choice. Other demands will have to wait."
My brother and I, with our bedding side by side, talked at night before turning in. My brother knew in his mind, and I sensed in my heart, that there was no hope for our father. We were children waiting for a parent to die. As his children, we were not inclined to speak such thoughts out loud. However, each knew full well what the other was thinking.
"Father still seems determined to recover," my brother said to me.