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Thursday, 8 July 2010

Mourning Mum

The Girl is at primary school and regularly brings home books along with a parental notebook which is supposed to be filled in, to keep track of her reading. Myself or Husband, or occasionally The Boy listen to her picking through Camping Adventure, or Birthday Adventure and then fill in the book with comments like: Brilliant Reading or Read Well or in the case of The Boy, Rubbish.

I looked through the book yesterday. My mother had looked after the children while Husband and I were in Singapore. I saw mum’s handwriting: Exemplary reading from my clever granddaughterr. The day after she wrote that, she travelled home, and while standing at the top of her stairs, had a cerebral hemorrhage, fell down the stairs and sustained serious brain damage. She won’t write a word like exemplary again, or say it. She won’t sit up or walk or look at us and have a conversation. She won’t cook or snap at dad or send me cuttings from the newspaper about osteoporosis, cancer, or other illnesses to brighten my day.

Mum is being sent to a nursing home because there is nothing more the hospital say they can do. For the last couple of months, myself, my dad and my sister have been ringing, arguing, asking for a second opinion and trying to fight our way through NHS bureaucracy to get her the best possible treatment. It’s like knitting fog. Speaking to the same person twice in a row is almost impossible, so I’m used to hearing phrases like: Sorry I don’t have the notes – I wasn’t at the meeting – I’ve only just been assigned to this case – I don’t know – I don’t know – I don’t know. I ring the hospital switchboard and it has this bizarre system of you speaking the name of the department or person you want to talk to. It goes something like this:

Hello – you are through to the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother switchboard. Which department or person would you like to speak to?

You say loudly and clearly,

Minster Ward

The machine replies,

Putting you through to Dr Klalid Abdullah

It’s funny the first time.

Mum isn’t technically dead but the woman who brought my sister and I up, fed us the home cooked food that has given us a lifetime of good health and stable weight, been a brilliant grandmother who sent parcels and letters to her grandchildren, and once asked: Is Freddie Mercury gay? (Is the Pope Catholic? replied dad) is gone for good.

I miss you mum.


Kit Courteney said...

Thankfully, I cannot imagine what you and your family are going through. I had a slightly similar situation back in 1990 when my grandfather had a stroke - we were told he was making good progress, but then he had another, and the man we knew all but vanished. He was 74.

It's distressing and SO bloody unfair.

I should imagine that watching your mum (and dad) go through that is far sadder though.

I don't have any advice. It's all a bit shit. The little reminders almost make it worse.

Mothers can be a pain in the bum, but they have their wonderful and funny moments. Yours sounds as if she was rather entertaining in her way.

And that's a nice thought.

Gillian said...

We are lucky to have our people for the time we do. I am sure the Dalai Lama would say that too.

Which does not make this okay, it's crap, completely f*cked up crap. Not quite what the Dalai Lama would say, I'm pretty certain.

I am sure you will all do your best to ensure her comfort and whatever pleasures she may have.

Be kind to each other. Give the kids a hug. Look after your dad. He is not as busy as you or have as many other things that need his attention.

Onwards we go...