There he was, lying sleeping, or so I thought.
A private ward on the 11th floor of the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow, fantastic views out the window looking north to the Campsie Hills then Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps beyond.
Not that he was in any state to admire the vista, he had more important priorities having just came through a kidney removal.
His wife and daughter had already been and gone, leaving him resting, recovering from the effects of the anaesthetic.
I waited outside the room, I didn’t want to go in, wake him or even chat to him. It didn’t seem appropriate. I just wanted to see him.
I just wanted to know that he was alive and well and that he was on the way back and over the trauma of the operation.
I can see him through the glass of the door, head back, propped up on pillows, eyes closed, mouth slightly open.
That was enough for me, maybe a quick chat with his nurse and get his status, then head for home.
At that she appeared, Nurse Aboui, small, slim, black as the ace of spades, afro hair and a dazzling smile as she offers her greeting.
“Can I help you?” She asks in her African accent and I’m thinking perhaps she’s wondering what I’m doing here at 8:30 when the ward is quiet and all the visitors seem to have gone home even although visiting is open until 9:30.
“I’m here to see my brother, but I don’t want to disturb him, just check he’s okay” Says I, feeling somehow humble and reverend, like being in a church.
“Ah .. “ she says “I can see the resemblance” and she touches her face adding “He’s resting but he’s not sleeping, do you want to speak to him?”
She pops in to the room and speaks to him, he opens his eyes and I hear my name being mentioned.
A few minutes later, I’ve been in and back out again, a quick chat to know he’s as well as can be expected and I let him get back to resting.
I thank the nurse on my way out and head down to the foyer to call my dad and text my other brothers, who live far and wide.
I’m feeling relieved, a weight off my mind, grateful.
It’s times like these that you really appreciate the simple things in life like your health, family and spending time together.
With that in my head, I popped up to see dad, a call is good, but in person is better.
At work today, the brother called, he’s standing at the window drinking tea and admiring the views.
Keyhole surgery and a kidney removal on Tuesday and should be home by Friday, you really have to love the NHS, there is no other health service like it in the world.
Addendum – A kidney removal on Tuesday and he was home by Thursday.
Cancer tumour away for analysis and waiting on feedback.
The NHS might have its detractors, but when you need it, its there.
Personally, I think its the crown jewel of the UK and should be funded appropriately increasing the front-line resource and removing as many of the consultancy businesses who are ripping the arse out of the available budget.
While I was in the foyer, I noticed the piano supplied by Glasgow Piano City which is available for the public to use.
A group of 25-30 year olds were messing around playing the stuff they could remember from music lessons.
Apparently since 2013, GPC have been placing pianos in public locations around Glasgow for anyone to use.
They also have “open lid days” were institutions with less accessible pianos open their doors and piano lids to the public.
According to their website this initiative has been rolled out in 50 cities across the world.
As an amateur who plays for at least an hour every day, I like that.
The above image isn’t Duncan and myself, but it could be.
A couple of snotty faced, ragamuffin kids from a bygone era where we played football all day in a city where there were hardly any cars and the buildings were black with soot and the walls damp and cold.
In the winter morning, there was ice on the inside of the windows and we had steam breath inside the house.
I’ve spoke to my kids about this, told them boring stories of being brought up in a tenement flat without a toilet never mind a bathroom .. or a piano! 🙂
I’ve we’d had a piano back then it would have been chucked on the fire!
Thankfully the world has largely moved on and poverty isn’t what it used to be.
The photo was taken in the Gorbals rather than Govan where we were brought up, but it was all pretty much the same back then.
It’s from renowned photographer Bert Hardy, more info here ..