Like a lot of you out there, I have a Mother who moved from her warden assisted flat to a nursing care home as her mental and physical health meant she was no longer able to look after herself any longer, and there were many times when it made my heart weep. I was talked out of looking after her in my home and while my heart desperately wanted to look after her, my head told me I would not manage and it was not a good idea.
A while ago she had a bladder infection and she was in bed and very distressed - staring out of unseeing eyes that did not seem to focus, grabbing with her hands at anything and everything close - ie: the bars at the side of the hospital bed had been put up to keep her in bed as she kept sliding out and staggering up the ward - and it was quite a distressing site for many to witness - and she was chattering away - with words that did not follow any cohesive sense and while she knew my name and - kind of - that I was her son - all sorts of other family members names came into it and I don't really think she knew me, Her confused state was sad to witness.
My Mother - a bright, intelligent fashion model who was one of London's top models in the 1940's and 1950's and walked the catwalk, also sang with many famous dance bands, for she had a superb voice - and who raised 3 children, was reduced to this.
A tall proud women with a voice and an opinion of her own and no fear of speaking her mind,- a woman who was married 3 times during her life and who put up with a lot,- A woman who had lived alone for over 20 years since her 3rd husband - my Step Father died and who lost her only daughter ( my sister ) and her baby ( my niece ) around 20 years ago when both died a few months apart ,- A women who has always been accepting of my gay lifestyle and who loved my friends and boyfriends totally, even if not being as accepting of my brothers wife - always being a dreadful mother-in-law and a women who all those 'mother-in-law jokes' must have been written about,- And a woman who was stubborn, difficult and sometimes a women who would make the angels cry because GOD she could NEVER admit fault and take responsibility and simply apologize, and a woman who has caused much family turmoil because of her refusal - point blank refusal - to ever accept that she was ever wrong about anything - And a woman who admitted to me some years ago that she had never been in love - never really knew what love was and that - despite being married 3 times and raising a family, had never really understood what that mysterious word 'love' - had meant - and while in her way she has loved and has been loved, she never really comprehended what it meant, and for that, I was always desperately sorry.
Sorry that she never understood how we - her children - felt about her and sorry that she always felt the need to - somehow - try and manipulate the situation to suit herself all the time. Sad that she never realised we would do whatever she wanted because we loved her and not because she was being manipulative. Sad that she always thought every situation was about her and sad that she felt such jealously and resentment towards anyone who 'stole her limelight' - even her own grandchildren. Sad that she resented her son being a sensational husband and father to his children and sad that she felt such resentment towards those who had something she felt she had lost out on, when the truth was - she hadn't - for she was loved - she was very cared for - and while she never understood this and while she felt alone and unloved, other people were hurt and betrayed by her time and time again because she simply didn't get it. She never really understood,- and that saddens me.
Poor Betty - my poor Mother, and as much as we have told her over the years and as much as we have openly shown our affection and considered her in our lives - she still never got it - never realised and never allowed herself to be part of the family - preferring to isolate herself and say that she wasn't wanted all the time when the exact opposite was the truth, and we just got fed up with it.
Towards the end, to see her bedridden and shouting for help all the time, was not good. I could have visited more often, and she understood in her way.
Whatever it was she lost - and whatever it was she lacked - and for all her mistakes and all her selfish ways, she was my Mother, I love her dearly, and no-one - NO -ONE - should be made to go through the kind of thing at the end of their lives, and the cruelty metered out by a government and health authority SO AGAINST EUTHANASIA beggars belief. My Mother would not have wanted this, and with a society where 80% of people asked agree that euthanasia is the best thing in some situations such as this, I know she didn't suffer at the end, which came quite quickly, and that she can now be with my sister, her family and Jesus - in peace - which is what she spoke of.
I would tell her that it was okay - she didn't have to keep fighting and being scared - that she could go to Heaven and see Jesus and the family any time she wanted, and that she, and they, would all be young again, that she would be singing once more and surrounded by those who loved her, and that her Father - who she never knew - would welcome her with open arms - along with Jesus. She felt reassured with this and while her body outlived her mind - I know she would not have wanted to live like this. Some people need permission to 'let go' and find peace, and my Mother hung on in there and died 21st September 2011 aged 89. She wasn't ill - she wasn't suffering anything more than being bed ridden and with dementia - her body was strong and she just seemed to 'give up' and slipped into unconsciousness and died within an hour, peacefully, and for that I thank God and the Universe.
So my Mother has now become a memory and one I shall treasure always. I shall tell stories, laugh and get angry, and always with love and affection, for while my Mother exasperated us dearly, she was a character - and strong willed individual and she died how she lived, in her own time and in her own way. I can hardly believe I will not see her next week or next month, when I visit and I comb her hair and paint her nails and we talk around in circles and --- but like so many people, life goes on and we will have her cremated and sprinkle her ashes over Evening Hill - a delightful park with a stunning view over Poole and the harbour and at sunset it is simply delightful, and I often visit with friends to enjoy a fish and chip supper from a local takeaway, and I shall remember her and be thankful that she was my Mother, who I loved dearly.