My Mum has Gone

This is going to be such a hard entry to write, and I don’t know quite how or where to start. Those of you who know me on Facebook already know that my lovely Mum died suddenly a couple of weeks ago.
I’d spent Thursday morning with her, and we talked about me giving up work in June and how much I was looking forward to having more time to spend with her for days out and helping in the garden. We also spoke about her moving out of that cold damp isolated house into a council bungalow, on a bus route so the two of us could use our bus passes and travel into town now and again. She also said that she was considering having a couple of days away somewhere, as she hadn’t had a holiday for many years. It was a lovely morning, and one to remember.

I rang her on Friday night as usual, and on Saturday morning as usual. On Sunday I phoned again, just after 11am as that’s when she normally sits down with a cup of coffee. It was a lovely day so when the phone went to answerphone I left a message assuming that my brother and his wife had swooped round and taken her off out somewhere, as they have done a couple of times before.

R’s Mum came round for lunch as usual and I was involved with all the usual cooking stuff.
At the same time, on FB I saw that a very dear friend, and R’s Mum’s neighbour, had posted an unbelievably sad status that her 26-year-old daughter was very ill and that nothing could save her. I was horrified and shed some heartbroken tears for her in the quiet of the kitchen. She’d only had a baby last year and already had a 7-year-old daughter. I told R but not his Mum as she was having a good day, but after lunch I had the message that the young girl had died of a massive stroke. I knew that R’s Mum would have to know because the family is well-known and loved in the street and everyone would be rallying round; R’s Mum especially being a neighbour I knew that the family would want her to know.

I broke the news as gently as I could and we both cried for the loss of such a young girl, taken too soon.

I rang my Mum again; this was about 4pm. Still answerphone. I then texted my brother : Is Mum with you today? Answer : No. We tried testing the line but it was fine.
We all bundled into the car and drove to Mum’s. The upstairs and downstairs curtains were closed. I rang the doorbell, banged on the door, shouted through the letterbox. No response. It’s happened, I thought, she’s had a heart attack in her sleep. I was strangely calm as I dialled 999 and asked for a Policeman to come and break the door down. My brother and his wife arrived just as the Policeman did. R took his Mum home and K to my best friend, her godmother.
The officer went upstairs followed by brother and me and Mum was lying on the bed, staring at the ceiling but still alive. The bedroom phone was just out of reach. The ambulance arrived, got her into a carrying chair, downstairs, outside and across the mud and out through the park gate into the ambulance. I went with her, R came back and followed the ambulance with brother D and his wife J.
She’d had a stroke – we don’t know whether it had been the night before as she tried to go to bed, or that morning while she tried to get up. She seemed to have taken a couple of paracetemol.
The hospital were not impressed that she wasn’t already on warfarin as apparently she had undiagnosed atrial fibrillation which had caused a blood clot to detach from her heart and go to her brain. All her right side was affected as well as her speech.
They were also not impressed that her doctor had given her antibiotics for a chest infection and told her to come back in a month if she didn’t feel any better, because she was suffering from pneumonia. They showed us the scans. Her poor lungs were almost completely fogged and the top left hand side of her brain contained a huge clot. I stayed with her all night, and we managed to communicate to some extent. I had somehow had the presence of mind to take her favourite photo of Dad with me from the dresser, and every so often I gave it to her to hold. Her face lit up through the oxygen mask whenever she did so. She slept now and then; I didn’t sleep at all.
The next day the doctor told us of the proposed treatment, rehabilitation, therapy etc to give her some degree of mobility, but said that she would probably not go home and would need some warden assisted type of accommodation. We were heartened by that, and went home that night.
The phone rang at 6.20am the next morning. Mum’s breathing had worsened and the doctor said that the only thing left to do was give her the mask that would force air into her lungs and back out again. I said that she wouldn’t want that and he said that he wasn’t asking my permission, he wasn’t going to do it because in her case it would be cruel and wouldn’t prolong her life by very much. He said that he’d take the oxygen mask off (she’d been trying to take it off herself all night and day) and would give her something to relax her. I guessed that it would be morphine but didn’t ask. I thanked him. He said that she had about a couple of hours left.
I rang my brother, told R, left him with sleeping K, ordered a taxi, sprayed myself with lavender because she loves the smell, grabbed a photo of K and arrived at the hospital. D and J had got there first because they live nearby. They met me with the sad news that she had died ten minutes after the doctor had taken the oxygen mask off and before the morphine could be administered.

My lovely Mum has gone, for ever.

We had her funeral this Monday, and now I have to get used to the idea that I’ll never see her again. I just have to keep reminding myself that I was lucky to have had her in my life for so long.

Live life, everyone. xx

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About Linda Weeks

About my life with the daughter I thought I'd never have - but I did, thanks to a wonderful anonymous egg donor, to whom I will be forever grateful. xx
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