Still here – my mother, with me at her bedside. This is a painful experience for all involved. For my mother because of the inevitable pain and for me because it is unbearable to see her suffer. As I said in my last post, ‘Til Death do us Part‘, I can only muddle along as I am not a pro at this and there are no Dying for Dummies self help guides. I suppose that is because it would be tasteless to discuss death however we all need help in this area, or possibly we all need reassurance. There are of course blogs on the internet, a modern day diary, written by people who are terminally ill. However these inevitably stop just before the stage my mother is at. Someone said to me that “dying is a personal thing” and so it is, but we all have to do it and also we will probably have to sit, as I am now, with someone who is dying, at some time during our own lives.
Anyway I am going to tell you all a few things that have helped me over these past two weeks. So if you know someone going through this end of life experience, then it may give you some ideas.
A friend cooked a casserole and dropped it off at my house. It was a joy to know that there was some home cooked food when I got home; not just for me, but for my OH and youngest son who is home from uni, especially as I am feeling guilty because they are being ignored by me.
The friends who have taken me out to lunch and who have not even mentioned my Mum. This also helps as I know they are sympathetic, but sometimes it is good to talk about the rest of our lives. Ellie dropped everything in her very busy life and drove to the nursing home and we went for lunch in the café. She made me laugh and we reminisced about some of the memories we jointly had of my mother. It was just lovely having the company of someone for a couple of hours. She also popped into see my mother and made her laugh and after she left, my mother said “she was a tonic”.
A friend who just picked up my dogs and took them for a long walk. Another who dropped a supermarket shop in to my kitchen. All things that were not asked for, but just happened whilst I was away and were very much appreciated.
My family who come with me on the days they can; my OH who fights me for the reclining chair in my mother’s room, flirts with all the nurses, gets the best cakes from the tea trolley and generally humanises the whole day.
The friends who just kidnapped me and took me to see Fiddler on the Roof at Grange Park starring Bryn Terfel, having organised the picnic and the journey, so that all I had to do was be ready at a given time in the knowledge that if I cancelled 5 mins before, because I couldn’t leave my mother, they would totally understand. There is no time for any more guilt in my life at the moment!
The endless texts from friends just saying they are thinking of me and particularly the friend whose own mother died on Wednesday night but still finds time to let me know she understands what I am going through. Of course all the people that know my mother, old and young, who just pop in to see her for 5 minutes. One day it was like a party and whilst my mother could not participate in the conversation, when they were gone, she said “I had a lovely time, I must remember to thank them all when I see them again.”
Of course it goes without saying my business partner, Grace, who has just picked up the slack with CountryWives and keeps me in touch with what is going on but there is no pressure and she knows that I will do what I can when I can but it does help to keep going and not let everything fall apart. You need some normality and routine during these times.
In the home I love the nurses that talk to me as if I am normal, gently but still talking about life and not talking down to me because the last thing I feel is normal. And the cleaner who pops in to my mother’s room and talks to her as if she will be up and about tomorrow and always has a story to tell me!
What do I do with myself all day? It is all a mystery as I have such plans to do so much but once there by her side there is so much to take care of, just making her comfortable and answering her questions when she wakes very briefly, every now and then. However yesterday when I returned home and I could have fallen into bed without taking my clothes off I managed to tidy my house as something in me wanted to make sure that my life did not look as if it was falling apart. My son and OH have been trying BUT, well you know what it is with women….we feel only we can clean our houses properly!