Florence Jane Mary – My Mum
I originally started my blog on Msn after a lot of prodding and pressure from my peers. I had no idea what I was going to write about, or what the format was going to look like.
Shortly after I started my Gran died, and this changed the look and feel of the blog. It was an upsetting time for all of us, and it changed my relationship with my mum, in that it brought home to me the realisation that nothing was forever, my gran had gone, and that the next one would probably be my mum as she was 76, also it had the effect of making us closer.
My mum took it very hard when her mum died, she noticeably aged almost overnight, and it became obvious that she wouldn’t make 99 like her mum.
Her health began to deteriorate, her rheumatoid arthritis was causing her a lot of problems and this led to a couple of episodes in 2009 where I had to go and help her out.
The first call I had was when she had spent 36 hours on the floor at her house. Luckily the heating was on so she didn’t get cold, or suffer any injury from this “ slip” but the poor old dear was quite dehydrated. She was adamant about not seeing the doctor or going to the hospital.
I asked her why she had left it so long before calling me, and she told me she didn’t want to bother me, and that she had thought she would be able to get up. She had called me when she realised that she couldn’t get up on her own….
I still can’t understand what her reasoning was, why she left it so long before picking up the phone.
We installed an emergency call device after this, a remote call unit that is operated by a person in distress so that if she had another “ slip” she could activate the machine and it would automatically call me with a distress message.
She seemed to recover from this, and was fine until the 19th December, when she called me at 2.30am to let me know that she was stuck down stairs in the chair and couldn’t get up to bed…at least this time she had called me!
We had a traumatic 60 minutes which only finished when I called the ambulance & the paramedics took her to the local hospital, a place that she used to work at, but hated with a passion, where they diagnosed her with pneumonia and treated her with antibiotics – She later said I saved her life, but I’m not so sure.
Panic over she was out for Christmas, not cured, but certainly better than when she went in, though Christmas was a bit strange, she was there but not if you see what I mean, as she spent most of the time in bed.
Subsequent hospital appointments discovered that she needed major heart surgery and that it needed to be done within the month… that was March 2010.
After many more visits and let downs, with her health deteriorating, it took the intervention of the District health nurse to prevent another collapse and to finally get things moving and early February 2011 she was taken to the cardiac unit at the Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
They took one look at her and “ NO “ she was too frail, poor old mum, yet another setback, but they said they would look at her in a week.
And so it came to pass that on the 22nd February 2011 she had her op..
It had only taken 12 months.
It was a miracle that she made it through that, it was given 60 / 40 at the time and we were all worried sick, but her strength of spirit saw her through.
I saw her on the evening after her op, she was awake ( though not really with it) but AWAKE!!!
The next day she was eating … 24 hours earlier her chest had been wide open & now she was eating.. incredible!
She started to make brilliant progress, but there was some memory loss – she didn’t remember any of the appointments she had been to, or that she was going to have the operation “ They’ve operated on me.. I didn’t know they were going to do that” she said.
This is apparently a recognised condition, which is caused by the brain being starved of oxygen when the body is warmed up after the surgery, and can last for 6 months or longer.
She stayed in the Q.E. for 5 weeks because she was so frail, that’s a month longer than a usual stay, uncomplaining, walking around in her little steps, caring for all the other patients – she used to be a nurse- everyone loved her.
She could be so charming at times.
Then they transferred her back to the original hospital…
Trouble with a capital T.
Two days after she arrived there she was stamping her feet up and down refusing to stay, telling me she was going to check herself out, which if you are of sound mind ( which she was) then it is your right to be able to do that.
I nearly had a nervous breakdown, I was worried sick, there was no care for her at her house, no food, nothing.
We couldn’t stay with her, we all had work commitments, but because she was creating such a fuss the hospital were saying that they were ok with her going home.
She stayed another 3 days, then I went and got her and took her home, where she promptly settled in to her favourite chair and went to sleep.
She wouldn’t accept any help, meals on wheels, carers coming in, nothing. Sweet she could be, but she had a will of iron sometimes, and she could be incredibly stubborn.
Also incredibly self reliant, as she managed to live in the house on her own
(with our help and frequent visits, running errands for her, cooking some fresh food so that she had a change of diet ) even doing some of her own housework.
But she didn’t seem to make any further improvements. She was spending a lot of her time asleep, not taking her meds, not even eating sometimes.
She was also getting mixed up with the days, every day was a Tuesday, so I started to take over the reins of her life, arranging appointments , ordering her drugs, all the minutiae that she really couldn’t be bothered with.
Eventually I managed to persuade her to get cleaners in, and as we were going away on holiday in July, also for a carer to come in during the week, half an hour a day, to check on her, give her some food, and generally check on her well being.
Three days she lasted with out us.
I was on holiday when we got the news that she had had a fall,and was in hospital. She had been there nearly a week.
She was ok, but in a bit of pain ( to be expected), but in no immediate danger, which is why I hadn’t been told, as they knew I would only worry, and I didn’t need to come home.
Two days later, I got a text message telling me to come home now….. I was on the beach in tears as I got the news that she was now VERY ILL and wasn’t likely to see 24 hours out.
There was no way I was going to get back in time, and I went into shock / denial
The rest of that day is just a blur.. my greatest fear that something would happen to her had come true and I couldn’t believe it.
I had thought that she might have a fall or something that needed a doctor, but I never ever thought there was a possibility that she would die.
She lasted another three days, fighting for her life, giving it her best shot, she always was a strong willed person, and boy she was really having a go.
She just wasn’t strong enough, she developed pneumonia again, and a chest infection, and finally her poor old battered body couldn’t take anymore and she died at 8.15 pm on Thursday 14th July with most of her children around her, people that loved and cared for her. I was still in Kos, waiting for the plane…..I wonder if she knew???
Her last words to me as we were going out of her door just over 2 weeks earlier were “ I’m going to miss you” , I told her we were going to miss her too, and that I loved her and I went back to give her another kiss.
How those words are coming back to haunt me now.
I AM missing her, everything that she was, her stubbornness, eccentricties, sometimes rudeness, her sweetness and kindness – she was so generous- her charm, her smile, her laugh , her smell, her touch, the sound of her voice, her memories, all these things are gone now, lost in the winds of time.
I can never get these back, all I have now is pictures, some video and my fond memories of her, the person she was.
As long as I have those, she will always live in my mind.
My lovely sweet darling Mum
Goodbye my love, sleep tight, rest in peace
Until we meet again Mum
All my love always
We had the funeral on friday, a beautiful warm sunny summers day, a full requiem mass, a beautiful service, a church full of mourners, what more could anyone want – she would have loved it if she had been there alive and kicking, it would have been
exactly how and what she wanted – then spent all sunday looking around cemeteries for a place for to lay her to rest.
I’m having a lot of trouble dealing with the loss of my mum. I’m 52, a grown man. I shouldn’t be bursting into tears at the slightest provocation. She’s always been there, all my life, we argued sometimes, but when it came to it, we were there for each
other, she knew that if she called on me I would come, as she had done in the past for me.
She once said to me after I told her we loved her ” You don’t love me for who I am, you only love me for what I am, your mother ” – that was probably true at the time, but as the years rolled by and I have got to really know her, I learnt to love her for WHO she was, ecentricities and all.
In the days after her operation I wanted to remind her of that conversation and tell her that it wasn’t because of what she was ie. our mum it was because of who she was, and that I loved her very much for being her. Sadly, like a lot of other things I never got around to it…too late now.
Now I’ve got to try to look forward past this gaping chasm of black emptiness and despair that life has become….
Honestly…… I’m not sure if I can.