32: Ivan is getting ill
Of his plans, the air traffic one, at last looked like maturing, and in a last gesture Ivan went to Holland for another medical overhaul - if the doctor turned him down he would give up all hope of being the KLM man in Majorca, but if he were still fit, then he would redouble his efforts to get the job. He passed the medical without problems. But the officials charged with the appointment of a Palma manager, after lenghty discussions, told the KLM President that they could not recommend giving the job to Smirnoff, it needed a younger, more commercially minded type.
The decision hurt Ivan though he admitted it was probably the right one. Now he knew there never would be such a chance again. He was old and he was tired ... God! But he was very tired! Ivan was getting ill. He had pains, but he insisted in not seeing a doctor. He was sure it was cancer and that it would kill him anyway. In mid-October 1956 Ivan had lost a lot of weight and lay, like a log, in the big bed. Now that all knew he was ill, Ivan's neighbours saw that he was not neglected. The weather was matching their mood of anxiety for their friend. Storms and tropical rain such as none of the residents could remember swept the coast. Electrical power failures became more frequent as posts and wires were blown down by the force of the wind. One day when Anita, one of their friends, raced through the rain to see how here "patient" was doing, Ivan beckoned her to his side. "I give up," he muttered. "Tomorrow I go to the clinica in Palma."
"I am glad you are sensible at last," nodded Anita, much relieved. A Dutch friend, holidaying in Majorca, had turned up and Ivan thought it was a good chance to travel into Palma, he could not drive his own car. No one ever left Cala d'Or without friends and servants waving them farewell, but this was a strange and melancholy leave-taking, with more tears than smiles. Ivan paused, looking round his comfortable, memory-filled villa; then walked, erect but shakily, to the car. He refused to take many things with him, insisting he was going to the clinica for a check-up only, that he would not be there more than a week. Before getting into the car he handed Anita the key to his garage. "Take the car when you like," he said,"anything you want, please take it; help yourself."