Tears and Smiles

Today has been tearful. Even when I haven’t been crying, I’ve felt as though I am. I can’t say it’s acceptance, more acknowledgement of defeat. We can’t win this one. There’s only one outcome, and though I can’t wish for Mother to continue a slow decline into unknowing dementia, the prospect of her death fills me with a howling animal sadness and powerlessness. I want to hide her from it, shield her with my own body, keep her safe and protected, stop death in its tracks by the power of my will.
She has done it so many times before. She has spent her life proving doctors wrong. As a newborn, she was sickly, and so was baptised at home because she was not expected to survive. We have saluted her, grinned at each other when she has once again deflected death, marvelled proudly at this tiny indomitable figure and her tenacity for life. But of course that can’t go on for ever. Even Mother can’t survive the continued onslaughts of old age and illness.

So we cry, and start to tell stories, to remember; to think how we want to celebrate this life, the long journey from 1919, and a backwater of Co Derry, to the bed with the cot sides where she sleeps under the pacifying influence of morphine. The carers tuck her teddy near, the toy sheep, the giraffe comfort cloth, around her. She slept today with her hand by her face, snuggled under the quilt, her Joseph blanket bright on the bed. Vulnerable, dependent, she receives the same care as a helpless infant. Some carers stroke her brow. This evening, one, who was going off duty and will not be working tomorrow, kissed her. I left shortly afterwards, but not before I had received an unexpected smile when I told her I loved her and would be back in the morning.

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22 thoughts on “Tears and Smiles

  1. We are aching with you, Isobel, through your Mother long and peaceful goodbye. We wish it weren’t, but we can’t help it, can we?
    We are sending you a loving hug and a slight stroke to her.
    We are comforted she is still able to comunicate with you sending you her smile.
    We love you, Isobel, and our thoughts and feelings are near you.
    xxx

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