Hello all, as you may have noticed I have been away more-or-less continually since February.
It was an odd time. I spent a total of 3 weeks during the last three months at home, the rest being spent travelling backwards and forwards to Nuneaton, where my parents used to live.
Mum and Dad went into hospital on the same day. Mum came home after a few days and was attended by care workers four times a day. Dad remained in for six weeks after a fall which hurt his back. He was medically fit, but couldn’t walk for some reason that they didn’t really understand. Before Dad came out of hospital Mum was back in with kidney and heart failure. I held her hand for two weeks until she finally lost the battle on 18th April. Dad went into a care home two days before she died. He was medically fit but not able to walk except very short distances with a frame. After he understood that Mum was gone, he turned his body off. It was as if a switch was thrown and he died on 22nd May.
Why am I telling you all his? Well, I am not looking for sympathy, and am certainly not wishing to make anyone sad with such news. I would like to tell you what I have learned from the recent events.
Firstly, I had a very good relationship with my Dad and we were very close. I was the ‘chip off the old block’. We understood each other. Conversely, my connection to Mum was not so good. We were very different characters and never seemed to get close all through my life. I had expected that I would have very little emotion on her death, whereas would find it hard to deal with the loss of Dad. Well, the opposite happened. I was good for nothing immediately following Mum’s death, whereas I took Dad’s with very little emotion or sadness. Is this because of our past relationships working the opposite to what I would have imagined or is it simply that Dad wanted to die as he had lost his life partner, therefore it is difficult to be upset when it was his wish?
The second thing I learned is the power of the mind. Mum’s body and organs were in a severely ill condition for the last two months of her life. Even the doctors told me two weeks before she died that she only had a few hours left. But despite the terrible condition she hung on, never complained and always gave us a weak smile. She fought until the very last breath, against all the odds. Dad was medically fit when she died, but after 66 years of marriage had no wish to carry on alone. He closed his eyes, shut out the world and managed to destroy his body in one month, such that he died quickly. The contrast between their ends was controlled more by their will to live or die, than by their medical condition.
Despite the loss of my parents in such a short time I really can marvel at what I have seen and learned from them recently.
16 thoughts on “Crazy ramblings after an odd few months.”
Hello, gaz! My Mum hailed from Nuneaton too. Testing times, eh?
The way you write that Gaz is very touching and endearing, like there is something for me to learn from what you have written. It was the opposite for me; I was not that close to my father, he being more mechanically minded and getting on better with my younger brother. It was many years after my father’s death that I discovered he had saved my life when turning off the main electricity circuit when I was caught with one hand on a cold water tap and another on a live wire from a speaker (experimenting with walkie talkie system in our London home.) So I never got to thank my dad., believing the things had jumped out of my hand as I was shaking so much, trapped in the circuit.
My mother lived ten years after my father but I think she only “let go” when she had had enough of the pitiful burden of dementia/Alzheimers. She was strong, and often it was her humour and love of people that kept her on top of life. .
You done well being there for them and I thank you for posting and sharing this.
Janus – The testing times are now over. Now that their ashes share the same spot in their garden, we can all move forward.
Papa – I think we are sad for what might have been rather than the good times. I was probably more upset over my mother as it was only then that I realised I could have been there for her more over the last few years.
Sometimes, when one has a good relationship with a person and all that can be accomplished is accomplished mourning is less intense. In life, there was peace between the two. When the relationship wasn’t great there is often a greater sense of mourning because of missed opportunities. Perhaps we mourn what should have been but wasn’t more. Please accept my condolences.
Too true Christopher. That reflects my thoughts also. Thanks.
G’day, Gazoopi. Back in January I went to Blighty for Mum’s 85th birthday shindig and she had a jolly fine time surrounded by the family Three weeks later my brother phoned to say she’d fallen in the lounge and broken her hip. This was on the Monday. She had a hip replacement and was out of bed on a Zimmer frame three days later and talking to the medical staff about her forthcoming physiotherapy regime. On the Friday she developed breathing problems and tachycardia and then bronchial oedema which in turn developed into pneumonia which took her away in the early hours of Sunday morning, eight hours before my flight landed.
It was all a bit sudden, to say the least.
Dad is eighty-eight, fit as a fiddle and seems fine in himself and coping admirably – much better than I did when A Zangada died equally unexpectedly, but who knows? In the past twelve months he’s lost his elder sister at ninety nine and 363 days of age, his twin sister and now his wife of sixty-two years. This sole survivor of six siblings is coming to The Cave at the weekend for ten days. We shall see as it will be yet another of those ‘first time’ events for him on his own.
Thanks for that OZ. Your Dad still sees a lot to live for. I wish mine had also. There are lots of family around Nuneaton, so it wasn’t as though he was alone, but just no interest in a life without Mum.
Enjoy him for the ten days.
I think perhaps for the parents sakes that it was the right thing for them to go together. An endurance and a shock for you but a very good end for them. Some people don’t want to go on alone.
I have always had a tremendous problem mourning the elderly who had their full allotted life span, time to move on so to speak.
I too have notice the power of the mind of which you speak. All ages have it, seen just the same phenomena in the teenage cancer unit. Some go in weeks and others fight for years.
I am sorry for your loss, it was all very sudden for you which makes it all the more ruminative to come to terms with. I was going to use the word shocking, but it really isn’t shocking that people die in their eighties, it is to be expected. But it removes the support pillars of your whole life to date which leaves a curious void. I lost my parents when much younger, maybe it was easier to fill that void in one’s twenties than in later life.
Have to admit I have never given it much thought until now!
Cheers Christina, they were both just over 90 so I agree they had a full life, in length at least.
Your comments are appreciated even though you prefer dogs to us humanoids. 🙂
I like your phrase “support pillars of your whole life”, Christina. I remember my headmistress saying when I told her I was going to my mother’s funeral “That’s your childhood over now”. And I wasn’t a child, but one of her staff.
My mum died when I was 11. Went into hospital in early November was dead by early February. Very, very traumatic. Now I barely give a toss when anybody dies and I mean anybody. I suppose it takes all types.
Sipu, you comment makes me feel as though I have had a very easy life 🙂
Hi Gaz, I have lived a great life, its just that I have very different views on life from most people I know . I am a cynic, but a happy one.
Re sipu’s comment. I think sometimes one has to pull the fuses completely on grief , loss of compassion is a by product of this. A defense mechanism of the human mind and body to be able to continue functioning at all. I know I had to do this to survive the boy. It appears to be a ‘one way trip’ on the fuse box too! Or maybe one just refuses to allow its re-introduction as an ongoing protection against further pain.
This of course, will only happen if one has to go on living. Not I think applicable to the very elderly or those of suicidal persuasion.
Christina until this year I had never lost anyone close to me. At 59 I am learning these things quite late in life. Three months ago I would have disagreed with your comment but now see them as wise words.
I think a jaundiced view of life may be triggered by loss but requires other tensions to prolong it. Cynicism and hatred are but sad symptoms.