The elders of my family set very high standards that I fear I am unlikely to match.
Aunt received the news we did not want on Wednesday; she has oesophageal cancer.
Is she cast down; feeling sorry for herself; weeping copiously?
I think she has hardly been off the ‘phone in forty-eight hours. I’d almost say she’s enjoying herself. Well, I have said it; she’s enjoying herself.
Two months short of her ninety-second birthday she’s taken control; said no to chemotherapy or any other invasive treatment; made clear to all concerned that she wants to be in her own home; to be nursed in her own home, if that proves necessary; to die in her own home when it happens.
Given her age, death and how it might occur has been in her thoughts for a while. She has repeatedly said she wants to die in her tracks. When she had her suspected heart attack in the autumn her greatest fear was admission to hospital.
This diagnosis, grim as it sounds, has put her in the driving seat, given her a window into her future, and she has been quick to seize it as an opportunity, not a disaster.
The specialist nurse is full of admiration for her, and also says that this is a cancer that progresses slowly in the elderly. There is no evidence of it having spread and there is a strong possibility that she will outlive it; by which I mean she will die from other causes.
The key is to get food into her. Aunt and I both disliked the description of sloppy food given by the hospital. We are working on our own menus. Experience of getting protein into Mother is coming into its own. Both sisters were diagnosed with Coeliac disease. As well as Alpro soya desserts, Greek yoghurt with honey (Aunt’s new addiction), soups with all the lumps beaten out of them, we are reviving the carrot and swede mash with grated cheese, rice pudding, ice cream. Your suggestions welcome.
Today I bought her a NutriBullet. Apparently there’s a recipe book with it. We shall have a play. The plan is to go up on Tuesday and stay over night. MasterB will be in attendance. Aunt loves him and is asserting her rights to see him in the fur. I thought I’d be leaving her on Wednesday with her wonderful cleaner Linda.
But tonight I learned that two more of her nieces will be in town; Cousin and Cousin’s big sister are popping over from NI for a couple of days, It will be a mini gathering of the clan.
The pair of them are putting up in a pub in town. Cousin’s big sister is a devout presbyterian so I want to get photographic evidence of this. Mother used to tell a story, always in a tone of horror, of her husband pouring a bottle of whiskey down the sink. What a waste, Mother would say, shaking her head. Surely he could have given it to someone who would have appreciated it?
I am bursting with the news, but it is to be a surprise, though I think I should warn Linda. I can hardly wait to see Aunt’s face when they arrive.
I suspect MasterB will hide under the bed. You can’t please everyone.