Working your way through Loss
The phone call from my sister was unexpected. It was Friday morning, the 4th of February this year, and I was at work, calling customers, following up on their enquiries. I work in Personal Banking for one of Australia’s major banks.
My sister lives in Melbourne (Australia), and my family and I live in Adelaide. For the last two years, since the passing away of my mother, she has been the main support of my father, who had deteriorated mentally and physically. Being alone and isolated in the family home during Melbourne’s lengthy Covid-19 lockdowns had accelerated his decline. He had been diagnosed with Dementia, and this was progressing rapidly.
Last year, the day before his 90th birthday, my sister had admitted him to a aged care facility. She and a lady from his church visited him regularly.
My sister told me that my father was now at “end-of-life”, a term that I was familiar with from when my mother passed away early in 2020. She, like my father, had deteriorated rapidly towards the end of her life. A call to my father’s doctor confirmed this. She informed me that he was now unconscious, and that, in her experience, her patients at this stage did not endure for more than 3 days.
With this in mind, I called my manager to let her know, and then phoned my wife. We prepared for the 10-hour trip to Melbourne the next day.
The focus was now on my father, Eric Josef Kleimann, and if we would make it to his bedside before he passed away. On the way, we talked about his life, and the great, supportive, loving father that he was.
His descent was not unexpected, due to his steady decline over the last two years. We had been isolated from him in his nursing home, too, as he was not technology-savvy and was also very deaf — it was not easy speaking to him on the phone, and his hearing aids provided little assistance. The best method was face-to-face, and, as told to us by his visitors, his dementia meant that recognition by him was a slow process during visits.
My former neighbour said that we could stay with her, in her home in an outer Melbourne suburb, for as long as it took.