Par For the Course

I didn’t rate the doctor’s bedside manner very highly. She measured Mother’s oxygen levels and seemed more interested in asking what we were giving her to drink than getting her pain relief sorted. I asked about the oxygen. She said a number that meant nothing to me in the context. What does that mean? I asked. Well, par for the course she said. I’m sorry, I said, but you need to spell it out; how is it par for the course? Near death, she said.
Then she disappeared with the nurse to get the patches to help dry the secretions in Mother’s throat and to give her relief from pain. They seemed to be gone ages. I rubbed Mother’s hand, kissed her and told her the pain would soon be gone. She had been whimpering with it. It is not a sound I ever want to hear her make again.

The patches were duly applied by the nurse and a care assistant. Within a few minutes, Mother was calmer. She accepted a mouthful of soya dessert, but her eyelids were closing. I read her story from a book about Hero Dogs and she fell asleep. The carers came to change her pad and move her to a new position. She was quiet, unresisting, and once restored with the covers over her, her eyes closed again. I left a few minutes later, drawing back the curtains to let the last of the daylight in, and turning off the light above her bed.
I spent around eight and a half hours with her today. Nephew and his wife joined me at lunchtime, and only left shortly before the doctor arrived. Other Nephew may visit tomorrow. Supposing there is no ‘phone call from the home tonight, I shall be there again in the morning, and Mother’s own GP will come. Nephew and Wife are on standby, warning their respective places of work that they may need to leave suddenly. I have left Aunt to phone family in Belfast. Tonight I shall email relatives in Malta. The doctor’s words were blunt, but maybe we needed to hear them. It seems there is no come back from where we are now.
At the marina, the last car left moments after I arrived back. It is windy, there are squirls of rain. MasterB and I are sitting on das Boot with the ropes creaking the other side of the window. We are both quiet, though we have had a game. He’s a good boy, and I am glad he is with me.

44 thoughts on “Par For the Course

  1. I want to send you peace and courage. And all my love to give you company through the goodbye. I wish your Mother doesn’t suffer any more pain and the parting is peaceful when the moment arrives. A big hug, Isobel.

      • Death is so hard to accept when it comes .. ! Our own, our beloved ones’parting … ! But death is the way life works so that it is always fresh.. We, forms of life, die and, thus, life goes on all brand new. That is what we really are: life, existence, But, as Issa puts it in this haiku he wrote after his youngest son (a very young little boy, died

        A world of dew

        The world of dew is, yes,
        a world of dew,
        but even so

        Kobayashi Issa

        My husband and I are sending you our full support in these hard moments

        • Thanks Maria. I keep meaning to look at Kahlil Gibran on death. I find death too big to comprehend. I think a lot of people do. Maybe that is why they use sporting analogies. I am starting to hate “she’s had a good innings”. My mother has not been playing cricket for 93 years. She is not going back to the pavilion for tea, and there will not be another match next weekend.

    • Poor MasterB. He is not having a very jolly time. He will be glad to get home and be able to run about again. But he introduces a bit of normality and balance at this time. I may stay overnight at the home tomorrow, in which case, he will be with me. A new adventure for him.

    • Yes, something within ourselves, very very deep inside, is torn apart forever. And we can’t help it. And we have to let go the ones we love most, no matter we don’t want to.
      Although the only certainty we can have is we and our beloved ones will die sooner or later, death is always an unwanted and unexpected arrival bringing us sorrow, ache, pain and longing.
      Again we keep wishing your Mother a smooth departure with you at her bedside, all surrounded by love and affection. From your words we see how loved and looked after she is by you, the family and the carers. WE are sure this comforts her and you beyond sorrow and pain.
      Big hugs.

    • Whwn my father died I remember you told me about the feeling you had when yours had died that an important landmark had suddenly disappeared from your personal landscape. And this is exactly what I was feeling: you had had the ability to put my sorrow into words. I have never forgotten and this image comes to me from time to time. Thank you, Isobel! i love you so much.

      • Thanks Maria. I drove back along a road I driven many times before tonight and it seemed completely unfamiliar, so much so that I thought I had taken a wrong turning.
        Death is disorientating for those left.

        • When we learnt about your Mother’s death, Husband and I commented how crucial is in a person’s life the loss ofone’s father and mother. Maybe because it definitly tears apart a bond that started with conception. Maybe because we are formed from them. Maybe because they live on through us living on …
          Good night, dearest Isobel.

        • I agree. It is a relationship that is immensely powerful and important. My mother’s mother died when Mother was just seven. She felt the loss of her mother all her life.

        • Husband’s mother also lost her mother when she was seven and she has been feeling the loss throughout all her life even having had a very loving step-mother. I try to make up my mind that sooner or later Mum will die: it is difficult though

  2. This is the first time your post has brought my tears. Both my parents parting were sudden so I have no idea what it would be like for time in the passing. Words seem trite. Hugs xx

    • Words are not trite Julia. You have made me think. My father died very suddenly. A shock for all of us, but a better death. We are, and have been for some time, on stop-go. Watching Mother slowly deteriorate is slow torture, because, somewhere, you hope that it can be reversed, yet of course it can’t be. Each time I tell her I love her, I wonder if those are the last words I’ll say to her. I just hope she hears them. And understands them.

  3. Sitting vigil is so hard…so sad for you and all those who care about your mom right now. And sorry for your mom’s pain and the cavalier attitude of her carers. I’m very glad that MasterB is with you to offer a little solace. Thinking peaceful thoughts for you and your mom.

    • I woke as usual around 3am this morning. It is that time when my head is racing while my body is still. I wondered of the thoughts going through your mind & understand how difficult it must be.

      • Thanks Julia. Strange though it seems, I am sleeping well. Disturbed by some of MasterB’s perambulations, and digging in the litter tray, but I turn the ‘phone off, get snug and feel the swaying of the boat. I think being away from the normal distractions of home helps.

      • I deeply hope your Mum does not have any more pain…. she has had a long road through the brain changes, and I do wonder if she has known of the changes that you have seen…. You have given her calming love and familiarity through these years, Isobel. You have taken the pain-loaded road with her….

        You remain in my thoughts–even when I waken at night I wonder how you are…. MasterB–such perfect companionship right now…. that sweet face looking into yours, adoring you…. taking care of you in his kitty way.

        • Oh Laurel thank you. I don’t quite follow what you mean about if she has known about the changes. Certainly she knows that I have been a constant, and she knows that I love her. I think she has always known that.

  4. I shall wave my wand and pray you get your wish to be there Isobel. I send you this poem…it has given me comfort in times such as these…I hope it may do that for you as well.

    Invocation – Rod McKuen

    It may happen
    that in some hidden
    middle night

    you’ll rise up
    and come to me
    in solitude or silence.

    We will meet
    as we have met
    on a train or at the end
    of some new train of thought.

    Thinking of you…

    • I think the passing will be peaceful. Certainly, every effort is being made to make it so. She is so tiny, it is hard to see how she continues, but she does. I got the feeling today that she is taking her time, that although it will seem sudden when it comes, she is moving gently to a rhythm and pace that we cannot understand.

  5. Oh, Isobel, I am so sorry. This is so hard. Thank goodness for Das Boot and Master B. And thank goodness you are there for your mother. I hope, when I am at that gateway, that my daughter will be there for me. Thinking of you.

    • Not having children, I am not sure who, if anyone, will be there for me. But then I am hoping either to do a Robin Cook,or to be marvellously healthy into old age and die in my sleep in my nineties like Cousin Olga.
      It is a hard time. But the carers are showing that they live up to their job title. Their compassion and tenderness with Mum is wonderful, and very moving, to witness.

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