Friday 1st May 1992 At home 01.30
“Is that, Dr Dennis?”
“Yes, it is.” The phone had woken my Dad. He yawned then cleared his throat. He blinked.
“It’s Marjorie Bowen, Jack’s wife. I think he’s died, Dr Dennis. I think he has but I’m not sure.” Mrs Bowen sobbed. “I don’t know what to do. Are you able to come out?”
“I don’t think we need to come in the middle of the night, Mrs Bowen. Do you want to tell me exactly what has happened?”
“You said, when you came on Tuesday, that you didn’t think it would be more than two or three days. He has not really been conscious since then. He has not had anything to drink. Today, his breathing has been irregular. It has been quite quick at times and noisy. I haven’t left him all day. Catherine has been here.”
“What was he like this evening?”
“Just the same, really. There were a couple of times when I thought he was going to stop breathing. You could tell that he was getting weaker. He has been very peaceful. Even when we moved him, there was no reaction.”
“What’s happened now?.”
“It was just after midnight. He twitched, groaned then went completely still. I waited for him to take another breath for ages but he didn’t. I shook him gently but nothing happened.”
“Are you still with him, Mrs Bowen?”
“Yes, I’m right next to him. I have been here watching him for an hour.”
“Can you look at his hand for me? What’s it like?”
“It’s purple, doctor.”
“Can you feel it?”
“It’s cold, very cold.”
“Put your hand on his forehead for me.”
“That’s cold too, doctor.”
“If you put your face close to his, can you hear him breathing?”
“No, I can’t hear anything.”
“Have you got a small mirror, Mrs Bowen?”
“There’s one in the bathroom. Catherine, can you get me the mirror?” Mrs Bowen called to her daughter.
“Right, I’ve got it.” She spoke quietly.
“I want you to put it in front of his mouth: to see if there is any condensation.”
There was a pause. “No, there’s nothing, doctor.”
“Can you shake him again? Just gently, like you did before.”
“He’s not responding.”
“Alright, Mrs Bowen, he has passed away. I don’t think there is any doubt about that. Is he in a comfortable position?”
“His head is twisted lightly. I’ll just straighten it.” There was a clunk as Mrs Bowen put the phone down.
“There we are, doctor. I have pulled the sheet and the blanket up over him.”
“Good. You can phone, the undertaker in the morning. Are you going to use Brian Griffiths?”
“Yes, I think so. He buried Jack’s parents and his brother.”
I will pop in to see how you are, after surgery tomorrow evening. Why don’t you have a drink of warm milk now and try to get some sleep.”