Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Dad, 90-Year-Old Atheist - Tuesday 22nd May, 2007


Dad was a real softie for animals

My dad is thin and wiry. His former six-foot frame is now bent over to 90 degrees and he walks it around with the help of a stick, looking down at the ground.
He has a number of debilitating ailments both inner and outer but his mind is as sharp as a blade.  Although he is now nearly blind owing to a series of small strokes and very deaf, he does not give in. His mind teems with schemes and ideas the latest of which has been to surf the Internet to find someone to sell him a prism, which he plans to grind into lenses in a determined effort to improve his vision. He has worked out all the necessary measurements. Once I saw him hammering away in the rain to build a “roof extension” for his grandchild’s guinea pig which lives in a run in the garden and because he couldn’t see to find the sack of wood shavings in the garage - he had removed the soiled bedding, was washing it in a bucket, and planned to dry it with my mother’s hairdryer.  The last time I was able to visit, I found him suffering with a very angry rash covering most of his arms and legs. This was frustratingly itchy and could only be temporarily relieved with hot baths, but it did give my father a new interest - testing out various theories and treatments of his own devising.  He would brook no-one’s help or advice - his GP merely diagnosing acne and creams - which my father promptly mislaid amongst a lifetime of possessions in his bedroom.  I printed out 48 small photographs of skin conditions which I found on the net and after a ten-minute scrutiny he pronounced:  “It’s none of them.” He is still occupied with searching for a cause and a cure.  His worst problem is that he has only small windows of time in which he can see long enough to read a couple of paragraphs in the newspaper or on the computer screen before he has to lie down in order to gather the cooperation of his nerve-endings for another brief period.  This makes him pretty bad-tempered.
It is sad to see a parent that you remember as young, vigorous and tall, become so old. But you can only admire him. He is determined not to die - he really doesn’t have the time! Neither does he have much faith in the hereafter.  He told me that when he was young, he attended all kinds of churches and considered all kinds of beliefs, coming to the conclusion that all religion was merely a delusion.  He is one that will not “go gently into that good night.”  He will “rage, rage against the dying of the light”.  PS - As he got nearer to death in 2012, his atheism wavered a bit: now he said he was not so sure...

1 comment:

  1. You are absolutely correct, it is very difficult to see your parents age.

    Regarding your father's atheism, I doubt that he was an atheist, rather I think he was an agnostic. The difference is the certainty of the answer. One can believe that religions are hogwash and yet not be certain as to the ultimate existence of God.

    "I don't believe in God" is not the same statement as "there is no God".

    The first statement can be true. The second in beyond our capacity to understand. I think your father would have been a proponent of the first statement.

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