Sunday 20 November 2016

For mum

In my last post I wrote we were seeing mum in her nursing home, following her massive stroke in 2014, every three to four weeks. Suddenly that packing, unpacking, repacking is no more. Quite unexpectedly, at 8 pm, on Friday 4th November,  mum suffered a fatal stroke, became unconscious and died, within the space of an hour. She wouldn't have known a thing, my aunt, a retired nurse said. She had taken mum's pulse just before 8 pm and just after. By 8.10 pm the strong beat had stopped. Her long life had ended. I wasn't there but had been quite concerned about her, exactly a month before, and had been anticipating my brother's phone call. He had been talking to mum at 6.15pm that Friday evening. She'd had her evening meal then had a little sleep as he said goodbye. By the time he got into his house the nursing home were ringing. Mum's breathing was abnormally laboured; he had to go back to see her. When he got there she was already unconscious. Even if I had been there her passing was so sudden she wouldn't have known I was there.

When I last saw mum on October 4th she was more frail than I had ever seen her. Speech was an effort, as was eating. I knew, instinctively, life could not be sustained much longer. As a consultant had said, almost two year's previously, mum's body had done its work. I took comfort from those few simple words. Elegantly, practically and succinctly put.

On hearing the news from my somewhat shaken brother, my words to my husband, midst the inevitable tears, were that she was such a nice person. All the tributes we've received have used phrases like 'kind', 'gentle', 'a good Christian woman', 'wise' and 'independent.' My short letter to mum, written later that night - what I wanted her to know - reflected everyone's feelings. My brother and I have been lucky with our parents.

Dear mum,
You were a lovely mother. A mother who wanted her children and always put us first. You lived without fanfare but enjoyed the good things. You appreciated classical music, impressionist paintings, concerts, the theatre, plays by Rattingan, the anarchic humour of Peter Cook, a sherry and good conversation. You were a wit. You liked being taken out to restaurants, on holidays and day trips. And you always enjoyed all these things without moaning nor talking incessantly about yourself.

Rev Dave Wills described you as a good Christian woman. You cared about others but you were wise. Some sob story wouldn't have passed muster with you - but genuine suffering always got your sympathy. And you showed you cared by thought, word and deed, for many years working with severely handicapped young people. 

It's been a hard two and a half years since your stroke, hasn't it mum?  You were never quite as bright again. I thank God you were rarely in pain and could still enjoy your meals. I hope God is taking care of you now. 

God bless and thanks for all your kindness. Ian and I have been very lucky children.

Goodnight mum. Goodnight xxxxx