A death a decade later…

10 years today my only, older brother – Arthur, called me. It was early evening. He said mum had been admitted into hospital, (again).

My first response was irritation… Even though I was the first point of contact because I lived the closest, the hospital called my brother EVERY time, even though we corrected this error, every time…

I steeled myself for the usual scenario of first contacting the hospital to find out what ward she was on and then trying to get hold of a member of staff who could tell me what was happening to her.

Then my brother called again to tell me the hospital had been in touch a 2nd time and they said to get there as soon as possible. I was to go to Accident & Emergency and find her in the ‘Resus Room’.

I jumped straight into my car – the hospital was less than 15 minutes away, so at least this time, I would know how to find her and not spend stressful, tearful aeons on the phone, whilst no one picked up the call or I was put on hold, or I had to press redial when I was cut off.

My mother had Parkinsons, so my brother and I were already well used to negotiating her around the medical system, going with her to consultant’s and figuring out her complicated drugs regime, etc.

Then, the hospital visits started to become emergency admissions… one for a suspected stroke, which was actually a psychotic episode, (where she tripped away with the fairies, for a few months)…

Then, as she lost use of her legs, she would forget that she couldn’t walk and throw herself out of bed, to fall on the ground and break her fragile bones…

As I drove to the hospital that evening, my dark sense of humour prevailed… (“Please don’t die today” I thought, I’m far too busy for a bereavement…).

I parked up at the hospital and made my way to A&E to join the queue at Reception. The female receptionist seemed snappy & irritated with all the sick souls in front of me.

Finally it was my turn. I explained I’d been directed to the Resus Room. The receptionist’s face and manner flipped a switch, to what felt like edgy concern. Only at this point did I realise that ‘The Resus Room’ could possibly be some sort of hospital code employed to handle a bereavement.

I tried to keep an open mind as I was ushered into a side room to wait for a doctor to come in and update me.

I can’t remember how long it took before he arrived, with a young looking student in tow, holding a clipboard clutched to his chest.

Neither can I remember everything the doctor then told me, except he kept talking on and on, until I was silently screaming inside, ‘just fucking tell me!” Yet, instead I just waited quietly, until he finally told me that my mother had died.

My first reaction? Deep shock…

Even though, just 3 days before, she had told me that she wanted to die…

The doctor then tried to pass me on to his assistant to talk me through ‘what next.’ I held up my hand to stop him. “I need to call my brother.” They waited uncomfortably as I made the call. I told Arthur, and first we talked of time of death, cause and so on. Then he started crying and we ended the call.

I went through all the ‘next steps’ with the hospital like a polite automaton…

Finally I stepped out of the hospital at around about 9 pm, into the dusky summer light. I didn’t move, but got my mobile out and phoned the 2 people who were closest to my mother in those later years: long time friend – Lyria – whose family treated my grandchild-less mother as an honorary granny; and Melanie, stalwart and vicar’s wife at the church my mother had attended for over 50 years.

My brother had already told Lyria; and Melanie immediately guessed that it was going to be bad news…

I drove home, still in shock…

Lyria came round to sit with me for a while. I was touched by her shared shock / sadness and so grateful she was there. I went to bed, but didn’t sleep…

Then it was another day. Then my brother and I made the arrangements; and eventually the adjustment to becoming orphans in our middle age…

Naturally there were tears… As well as the confusion of emotions which I wandered through, feeling like my insides had been pulled open and exposed to a world to the air.

My friends were amazing and so very supportive. Some of them are no longer close to me now, yet that’s just another of life’s tides and I will always be grateful to every single of them…

My brother and I seemed to be ying and yang… One would be fine, or one upset at a moment in time, but together we did everything we needed, to tidy up the threads of a life no longer lived.

Her celebration day was amazing. It was a blazing hot July day. Lyria’s husband Bob was playing the church organ for the service; and so my Scottish mother left the church to a sweet, mournful version of ‘Loch Lomand’…

So those are my reflections on this day of days 10 years ago. When I embarked on family tree research some years later, I realised her own father (who died before I was born) had passed away on the very same day and month, 54 years earlier. I wonder if that’s simply a coincidence, or if she was thinking of him that day…

Today started with me thinking that during my mother’s life time I felt love for her and hate for her, and just about every other emotion in between…

On this day in the life, I’m choosing the love I felt for her. We began our time together with love and so too we ended it the very same way, transmuted by time and experience.

So that’s my inheritance from my mother today.

Love you mum.” x

The song she was piped out of the church to…
Enjoying my 40th birthday party
Me (at 21) and mum on a sightseeing visit just after my first graduation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s