We have done all of the “firsts” now. It is a year and a day since my mother passed over. I spent yesterday with my sister and Dad. We went to the local church and lit candles and then went to a neighbouring village for a meal.
Mother passed over at 2 am on 5th December 2011. She originally went into hospital for a broken hip. She was sitting on the arm of a chair looking out of the window and getting the September sun on her face and she fell off. Dad found her on the floor with a cut head and her leg at an unnatural angle. She was a frail lady as she had not eaten properly for years. Her downfall started with a bottle of fabric conditioner. She reached up to get it and it fell on her and damaged her sternum. She was always in discomfort when she ate after that. The medics said that there was nothing they could do. She ate less and less as hard food was difficult to swallow and her weight plummeted. She had arthritis in both knees so mobility was a problem too. She had developed an ulcer on one of her feet. On the day that she passed she was due to go for an MRI on it and she was worried that they would find cancer. We think that part of her was so scared that she “arranged” for her death to avoid this MRI and the results that she dreaded.
She went through 2 months of learning to walk again after her hip operation. She used to cry as she found it so difficult. I helped her a few times. She said that it was so hard to learn to stand up as she could not feel hee leg, the foot felt like it was nothing to do with her and she had lost confidence. But she did learn to whizz around on her zimmer frame. I was proud of her achieving that. Plus we noticed that she no longer walked with a stoop. Her head was held high.
I kept away for a week as I developed one of those productive coughs that pounce on us in the winter and I was afraid to pass it on to her. But as it turned out I could have gone. The nurses were coughing and spluttering and mum ended up getting a chest infection which turned to pneumonia. I knew that her fate was sealed then. I used to work at a GP practice and they used to say that it was never the illness that the old people went into hosptital with that killed them, it was the pneumonia. So I knew.
We went through a horrendous three days at my Mum’s bedside. She was gasping for breath and she kept yanking her oxygen mask off and throwing it across the bed. We were often just sitting there watching that monitor machine bleeping and going up and down. My sister was saying yesterday that she felt so guilty as we were often discussing it and Mum suddenly woke up and said that she could hear every word we were saying. I insisted that we were not at fault but the hospital were. They give you no guidance on how to be when someone is dying. They do not explain a thing. I think that they should talk you through what is going to happen. My sister and my father were talking to my mother constantly and when we got to the third day of bed vigil, the Staff Nurse said that they were prolonging her stay here and it was best that they kept silent. They did and she passed away peacefully. There was a sense of relief but also confusion. She had only gone in with a broken hip and had learned to walk again, was eating, getting stronger, had her hair done by a visiting hairdresser. We had expected her to come home. Then everything went into reverse.
My sister and I talked on the way to fetch Dad and like all people in this situation, we could not believe that a year had passed. Everyone is doing ok, including Dad. He went through a three week patch where he seemed confused (was telling me that he had eaten baboons when actually it was spaghetti bolognaise) and very low but he managed to come through the other side. He has a photo of Mum by his bed and he talks to her every night, telling her all of the gossip form the village. He will not watch the soaps like “Eastenders” and “Coronation Street” because she loved them and he does not want to know what happened without her knowing because he feels it would be disloyal. He will watch other programmes that she liked including “Strictly Come Dancing” and “X Factor” because he can “imagine” what she would think of the contestants. Luckily he has an interest in drawing up the family tree. He has a new laptop and has become quite computer literate. My sister told me yesterday that Mum had said that he could have a laptop when he had decorated the kitchen, the front room etc. She said that the goalposts were constantly being moved so if Mum had returned home, he would never have got his laptop. Now he will not decorate as he wants to leave things as they were. So he focusses on his research to draw the family tree.
He also plays the guitar in a band and goes to the practice session once a week. One of the members is his best friend and he visits Dad regularly and they sit sipping cointreau and chatting for hours.
So we are all adapting well. All of the firsts after have passed. It is still very hard to actually “get it”, that Mum has passed from this earth plane and that she will never sit in that chair in the front room again, that she will never pick up the phone again etc. I know lots of other people who are no longer “present” but the difference with parents is that they have always been there. Your mother was there before you were born, carrying you inside her. You would not expect someone like that not to be there always would you really. It is all very strange really.