‘It was an honour to care for my dad after his accident’

Every week, Dominique McMullan tries something different. This week: relishing the little moments

Dominique McMullan with her father: “He is the most unassuming and generous man on the planet”

Dominique McMullan with her father: “He is the most unassuming and generous man on the planet”

 

This week I moved in with my dad for the week. Dad had a skiing accident in December in which he broke his femur, three ribs and his clavicle in two places. It wasn’t that dramatic an accident; he just fell at an odd angle on to ice. But there is nothing like a fright to leave you grateful.

I found out in work. Three missed calls at 11am and my heart rate rose. Usually phone calls like these are because Mum can’t remember her Netflix/BoI/wifi password, I remind myself. Ringing back I initially relax; Dad is slurring slightly, his lad’s trip must be more laddy than I imagined.

Then I realise something’s wrong; “Everyzzing is okay, I’vvvve had a little fall”. Stomach flips, world tilts. He is on the side of a mountain, already on morphine. They were waiting on the ambulance. Everything was fine, they would be in touch.

Two days later I flew to France. Dad described animated Chinese illustrations on the ceiling and giant flocks of birds blocking his bedroom window. I got his morphine pump removed. He was flown home in an air ambulance on Christmas Eve.

This week Mum, whom Dad has nicknamed “Florence”, took a well-deserved holiday, so I moved in. I cooked dinners, lit fires and helped him with his socks.

Big things and little things

We spent the week chatting about big things and little things, quietly reading, drinking nice wine and milky tea. Time spent like that, quiet moments between activity, are missed out on when we’re adults with our own homes.

This issue of the magazine celebrates all kinds of love. My dad was the first man I loved. There is no better feeling than seeing him smile after I make a crap joke or show off about some minor achievement. He is the most unassuming and generous man on the planet. Like so many dads, he’s worked away quietly in the background of my life to always make things better for me. It was an honour to spend the week doing small things for him.

Soon enough he’ll be better, he was already taking “baby steps” towards the end of the week, and once again our roles will be reversed. As bones heal and memories of slurring phone calls and lurching stomachs fade, I may forget how grateful I am for these small moments. I hope I don’t.

Do you have suggestions for what Dominique should try next? Email your ideas to dmcmullan@irishtimes.com

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