My father handled illness badly. It wasn’t so much that he complained about feeling poorly, which he did. Or that he refused to be compliant with the doctor’s orders, which he was.

It was more a case of his not knowing how to be sick. Should he lie down or sit up in bed? Should he read or listen to the radio? Close his eyes or keep them open? My mother often laughed at what she called his practising how to be a patient, though there was nothing patient about his sick-bed rehearsals. He genuinely struggled about how to play the role of a man who had had a heart attack...

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