So finally, after delays, changes in flights, engine trouble, boarding and then disembarking again, my Mum’s flight finally took off and she is in the arms of her Maker. The flight was very turbulent and she was shaken to the core but last weekend it all settled and she soared beyond the clouds and on Sunday afternoon she arrived at her final destination.
An enormous sense of relief hit me in waves as I had been willing her to go for so long as the pain of her cancer became unbearable for her to suffer and for me to watch her suffering, but she would not let go. Then when she finally passed everyone kept saying what a merciful release, she is now pain-free and at peace and this is all true. But then the days pass and you forget the pain and you start to miss the person, the mother who you only ever have one of and now she is gone forever. All those things you might have told her, all the stories you could have asked her to tell you about her life before you came along, those opportunities have now passed. That funny realisation that I am now an orphan which I suppose, at 57 years old, is inevitable but still it hurts. I suppose from birth you have an in-built mode that says your parents will always be there, no matter what, and when you are young you just think they will go on for ever. However when you do stop taking them for granted it may be too late. I wish now I had had more time for her when she was younger but your own immediate family, husband and then children, take your time and first place in your priorities. We live in a furiously fast world where every minute has to be filled with activity, we have little time to just sit and chat. With the invention of the mobile phone I know I have been guilty of phoning someone I need to chat to whilst I am doing something else, like walking the dogs. Gone are the days where you had to sit down at the table where the telephone was, and phone your friends, and you had to give them all of your attention. We rush from place to place, fitting too many things into our 24 hour day and maybe we miss the simple and fiercely satisfying things. This morning the sun was shining and my OH was home and a friend popped round for coffee and we sat outside and I saw that all of my roses were having a third bloom. I might have missed them and it made me think what else do we miss?
And yes I miss my mother! In my mother’s case her spirit left weeks ago and now her existence has gone but really dementia took her from me two years ago. I could say that she was never the same woman after her diagnosis which is true but she just evolved. I watched her take on her new status of a woman with a decreasing short term memory but she never got angry, as some do, but she accepted her ‘lot’, a trait she has always had. She always used to tell me that “the Good Lord will look after me.” He did to a certain extent in that her illness did not make her unhappy, though at times she got frustrated that she could not remember a certain word and, as the months passed, that became increasingly often. I visited as much as I could and it seemed that every week something was taken away from her, never to return and her dependence on others became a necessity which was equally hard for someone who had been so independent all of their life.
Then she was diagnosed with cancer and this was one step too much. Her body quickly became racked with pain and with her dementia it was hard to ascertain how much pain she was experiencing. The nurses would ask how she was feeling and she would always say, “Just grand”, but grand she was not. She once said that she could not remember what she did yesterday so since this was the case she assumed it must have been fun! In actual fact on that particular day she had had a lot of pain which had knocked her out but I did not remind her of this and I made up a story of what she had done and people she had seen and she was happy. The pain became agonising and whilst the medical staff worked hard to keep it under control she always managed a smile and a thank you for all of their help.
I now wonder and worry that she died not knowing that she was loved and we were grateful to her. One of my sons found a poem, As We Look Back, that he is going to read at the funeral which I think is so appropriate and I hope that my Mum will be able to hear it – I just regret that I did not send it to her before she died.
As we look back over time
We find ourselves wondering …..
Did we remember to thank you enough
For all you have done for us?
For all the times you were by our sides
To help and support us …..
To celebrate our successes
To understand our problems
And accept our defeats?
Or for teaching us by your example,
The value of hard work, good judgement,
Courage and integrity?
We wonder if we ever thanked you
For the sacrifices you made.
To let us have the very best?
And for the simple things
Like laughter, smiles and times we shared?
If we have forgotten to show our
Gratitude enough for all the things you did,
We’re thanking you now.
And we are hoping you knew all along,
How much you meant to us.
So the lid to my world has gone, the baton has been passed on and I have had to accept it and cannot give it back. I just hope that I can be as fearless as she was when faced with so much at the end of her life and I am determined to stop, look, listen and appreciate all that I have now and tell those that I love how much I love them.