The last time I saw my mum in full health was on Mothering Sunday – as she preferred it called – ten years ago. We eat out as a family, a traditional Sunday roast if I remember rightly, at the sort of pub you take your mum to on special days.
We had a good time and unusually – rather than racing off – I went back to my parents’ home and we had a cup of tea together and a really good chat, just me and my mum and dad.
The two things I remember about the conversation were the plans she had for the future, she was always doing things, forever resourceful. She was keen for me to help her get set up on a computer something she’d mentioned a few times but I hadn’t got round to sorting. She also wanted me to do some research into the value of some old 78 vinyl records that she thought she might sell.
Just a few days later I got a call from my sister that she’d had a stroke and had been rushed to hospital in an ambulance. At that time we had no idea as to its severity but because she suffered from a serious lung condition it felt inevitable her life would be in danger.
I can still vividly recall the heartbreaking scenes at A & E when she was first admitted to hospital and the sense of helplessness we all felt.
The next few weeks were awful as we watched her gradual decline, trying our best to understand what could be done, how we could help and how to get the best treatment and care for her in hospital which often was not forthcoming.
There were some particularly harrowing times over those weeks including seeing her kept alive by one of those awful invasive mechanical ventilators that are currently in the news to help people get through coronavirus.
The last time I saw her alive was when I was helping to push her on a trolley to some other part of the hospital. Horribly wired up to the ventilator and other supposedly life-saving devices she looked more ill than anyone I’ve ever seen.
Suddenly she came to and said: “Is that you son?”, “Yes,” I replied stunned that she was talking.
“I’m still here then,” she went on to say which I took to mean still alive. She said it in a way which was at once both belligerent and accepting, so very like her.
It brought a lump to my throat and I just croaked: “You’re amazing.” Just then we arrived at our destination and I simply said: “See you,” as she was wheeled away.
She died the next day.
I couldn’t get there in time but thankfully my sister could and was by her side when she passed away.
I think of my mum often and how she cared so much for me and my sister with a selfless, unconditional love that only comes from the best of parents.
She was truly amazing and I still miss her so much.