I think I need to say right at that beginning that I know I am writing this post as a way of trying to find out just how I feel this morning.
A couple of hours I got a call from my daughter in the UK to let me know that my mum had died in hospital during the night: it wasn’t a surprise as Mum fell and broke her hip a couple of weeks ago and needed surgery which is never good when you are 89. A few days ago the hospital let us know that Mum had slipped into a coma and that her organs were about to start failing, so, no big surprise this morning to hear that she had died and I received the news quite quietly, some sadness which I can feel increasing as I write this, but no tears or histrionics from me, no sudden sense of loss or loneliness either. Mum had been afflicted by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia for the last 10 years, or possibly more as this insidious disease doesn’t really announce it’s arrival but builds up gradually from taking away minor items of mental facility such as forgetting where you left something to taking away pretty much everything so that you forget who you are. Looking back there was some point in those 10 years where Mum “died” for me and perhaps that’s why I feel as I now do. The other thing which is, I think, a big contributing factor to my feelings is that it’s now 12 years since I can pinpoint the first time Mum told me she wanted to die. There are lots of times when I can think of hearing people say they wished they were dead, but, generally, that’s just a statement with no real meaning except to express a severe reaction to something, however, with Mum, it was different: she really meant that she wished she could die. Looking back she was, at that point, aware of her diminishing mental facility (though she made sure to cover it up well!) and was clearly aware that she was starting to live a life which was diminished in quality and which would continue to diminish. I can understand that feeling. Over the succeeding years I heard the “I wish I was dead” and “I wish I could die” many, many times. On several occasions it was followed by a very plaintive look as she followed that phrase with “but I know you can’t do anything for me.” Talk about heart wrenching!!
I have my own beliefs about what happens to Mum’s life force now, although clearly I can’t really know, but Mum had a very clear vision of the Christian God with white hair and a white beard sitting up in Heaven on a throne in a blue sky with fluffy white clouds all around. It was a vision Mum got as a girl growing up in Gawber and attending the local junior school and, of course, Sunday School at the local chapel – Mum was always clear that they were “Chapel and not Church” when they were growing up as it seems, in Mum’s opinion at least, that those who went to the church were “stuck up and thought they were something”! Anyway I really hope that, for Mum, her vision of the afterlife holds good and that she is now re-united with her Mum whom she adored but I never met, her siblings, possibly her dad although she had no really clear memories of him as he died in a pit cave-in when she was quite young. Will she be re-united also with my dad? I don’t know as his experiences with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment during WWII convinced him that there could be no such thing as God and the thought occurs to me that, maybe, after death what happens might just depend upon what we believe should happen.
Mum leaves behind lots of memories with me, my daughters and my grandchildren which are now making my eyes blurry so perhaps it’s time to stop writing and dry my eyes ;0)