Not long after Hughie died, Alan wrote me a sad note. He had come home from University, where he is studying (and excelling in) math and economic geography, to the flat he had his Dad had shared. As usual, he called out, “Pops, I’m home,” and of course, there was no answer. Nor was there the full-course meal Alan was accustomed to. And the extended family, the clan, had packed up and left.

Alan was understandably bereft.

When I read this, I went into panic mode. What to do? I dashed off an encouraging letter, plus some poetry and “inspiration.” Then I hit upon an idea: Why not ask Alan to write something original for us about his experiences with his Dad’s illness? It would be potentially therapeutic for him and enlightening for us.

I had read many testimonials from middle-aged woman who were caregivers for elderly fathers, but never anything from a teenage son. I wondered:

*What was it like for Alan, at 17 years old, to find out that his Dad had an incurable disease? *And why did he decide to move in with Hughie at that time? (His parents had been divorced for about 10 years, and Alan had been living with his mom.) *What lifestyle changes did this choice involve for Alan? *And what was it like for him to be the primary caregiver for his father in his latter days (and to have his father care for him, as best he could)?

I would like to share this edited version with you.

“Caring for Pops: Trying To Be a Friend And a Son at the Same Time”

By Alan Kearnley, © Glasgow, Scotland, 2007.

I used to live with my Mom, had done for many years since she and my Pops were divorced. I wanted away from her and her new husband who was most disrespectful of me and called me nasty names. Let’s get it right –- I’m a homosexual –- something he, the big “He-Man,” detested.

When I found out that my Pops had Prostate Cancer, apart from the shock and dismay, it gave me the excuse I needed to get away from my Mom. As soon as I could pack my things, I went to live with Pops.

Oh –- Pops was my dad, best guy I ever knew, just in case the word Pops confounds you. I adored the guy –- we all did -– that is, his kids, even though he had his “Shouting Times” when his voice got to be fearsomely threatening. THAT was when we learned to OBEY or be sent to our room.

Not once did Pops ever lift his huge hands to us, except one time when he smacked the head of one of my brothers for getting his girlfriend pregnant, and that just turned into a comic wrestling match until the offender promised to get married.

When I moved back to our “old” family house, I had to choose between three bedrooms. I took the one farthest away from Pops’ –- he snored for Scotland, and the racket was unbelievable! But Pops didn’t snore that night. In fact, I never heard him snore while I was with him in the latter days of his life.

The first day –- I had moved