This was my first day back to work after a few days out of the office. I forgot about the job search and the CEO’s strange request after getting a call from my mother. My mother rarely calls me while in the office, but on this particular day she was persistent. I had to step into my office and tried not to sound impatient as I said, “What is the matter?” She burst out in tears and said; “your father is very sick, and I do not know what to do?”
I was taken aback by my mother’s tears. I initially thought she was being dramatic after such calls from her in the past almost every other month. My father drinks too much despite doctor’s orders and so every other month, he is either sick or suffering from an injury.
I was getting ready to share my usual script of “ what are doctors saying? And how much will it be?” But she continued crying and then said; “you need to come home, he isn’t talking this time things are bad.” I could not take this lightly and my jaw dropped as I tried to process what my mother was saying. It was in that same moment when the CEO walked into my office. He appeared shocked and said; “are you okay?” I ended thecall with my mum saying, “I will call you later and we discuss.”
I pretended to be fine as I asked the CEO; “what can I do for you?” He said; “you do not look okay, what is the matter?” To brush him off, I told him, “my father is not well-, and it appears serious.” He turned all compassionate and said; “you need to go home ASAP. You never know with these things.”
As usual with him, he somehow managed to make the discussion about him. He started telling me about his experience, about how his mother also got sick and how he dealt with it. He concluded by saying, “I wanted to find out if you have discovered anything about Johannes, but this is clearly more important.” I was not sure what to say since I have not conducted any research on Johannes because it is unprofessional. I decided to take the current gap and say, “so far nothing, I guess I will have to revert when I return.”
As soon as he was finished, I called my mother and told her, “I will be leaving the city in an hour.” Just to cover my bases, I spoke to my junior about the outstanding actions to deal with in my absence. I also made sure I logged in my leave request of three days in the system so that I am not accused of violating HR laws in future.
I got to the village later that evening expecting to find my father in the house. Imagine my shock when my mother said, “he is in hospital, we need to go there.” Let us just say nothing prepared me for the sight of my father- he was looking weak and frail and had all manner of tubes attached to him.
His voice was very weak and when I asked him what the matter was he said; “I think it is pneumonia.” It was only later when I sat with the doctor that I learnt what was ailing my father. His doctor said; “basically your father’s liver is messed up from all the drinking.” I had to ask how bad it was. He said; “It is bad, but not beyond repair, all he needs is to give up drinking for at least one year.” He went on and on but all I could think about is how I would get my father to stop drinking- he has been drinking all his life.