I wrote this in 2010
Mum had her fair share of health problems over the past few years; osteoporeosis and osteoarthritis lead to a lumbardectomy on her back about four years ago; two years ago she had an artery replaced in her leg, and, she has had a couple of colonoscopies this year which came back negative for cancer.
About a month ago she had a fall at home, didn’t tell anyone and just battled on, until Tuesday week ago she had to spend the day in bed because of the pain. On Wednesday morning when my sister went down to check on her she was sitting in a chair in her bedroom crying. Karen called an ambulance and we descended on Box Hill Hospital Emergency Department.
They did a series of tests; xrays found a fracture in her spine, but that didn’t explain the other pain in her abdomen, so MRI’s and CAT scans followed and on Sunday last week we were told that Mum had cancer in the liver and in her spine and that she only had months to live. Mum and my sisters and I discussed the option and chose for her not to have any further invasive treatments. Mum didn’t want to go through what her mother did after being diagnosed with breast cancer in her eighties.
“How come,” she asked the doctors, “I was alright last week but now I’m dying of cancer.”
Of course she wasn’t alright the week before.
So for the next few days we kept a bedside vigil whilst the doctors changed her medication to make her comfortable and we and she were resigned to the fact that she would end up in care somewhere and not go home.
I had to go to work on Thursday but got a call from my sister that Mum was starting to see a few ghosts. This gathering of the ghosts is a common one in our family and for me it was reason enough to head straight back in.
We had a wonderful afternoon, we laughed and joked and reminisced. My brother-in-law Gerry came in and Mum said that he had one of his departed dogs, Bessie sitting on his lap.
“Why can’t it be Drew Barrymore?” he said.
“She’s not dead,” we laughed.
“How about a young Liz Taylor then?”
“She’s not dead either,” and Mum laughed with us.
We left late on Thursday night and by the time I got in Friday morning she was in a deep sleep that we couldn’t rouse her from. Around lunchtime the Palliative Care doctor came in and said that they would be able to move Mum to a free bed at Wantirna Health and she arrived there by ambulance at around 2 pm.
Her breathing was deep and laboured and at 1:15 am this morning in the company of my sisters she passed quietly and peacefully away.
Mum had a good life and this week had the opportunity to talk to people she cared about and say her goodbyes, with all of them there was a laugh and a giggle and that is what they will remember.
For her children and grandchildren we have lifetimes of memories and whilst the end came quickly I think Mum made sure that she wouldn’t linger and drag this out for us. On Thursday night, in the hispital ward she a a roiling cloud of light on the ceiling, she tried to describe it to us but said that it kept going in and out of focus. In the early hours of this morning I am sure that it cam sharply into focus for her and Dad and Nana and Grandad and all of her passed love ones greeted her warmly as the pain left her for the last time.
I’m going to miss you Mum.
Here are a few other posts about my Mum –