Life (and death) disruption. My mother.

I started February with several plans. Some began to come to fruition, but everything was thrown into chaos by the long-time anticipated but unexpected death of my mother on 23rd February.

Apparently (in a nursing home), after sleeping in late, she tried to use the bathroom and pulled the emergency help cord.

The manager of the home managed to get her into a wheelchair and thus back to her bed, while staff called 999 (UK emergency service number).

Paramedics gave her oxygen and were trying to apply heart monitoring when she said: “I’m going now.” They tried to reassure her, but she said: “No, I’m going”, and died.

This is typical of my mother as I remember her. Straightforward, not wishing to cause a fuss or be a burden.

She had a hard life. Soon after her 11th birthday in August 1939 she was asked by her mother at bedtime to pray there would not be a war. She thought a war might be exciting and prayed that there would be a war. Next day Neville Chamberlain came on the radio…

Imagine the burden of an 11 year old child with that guilt, unable to confide to anyone that she had asked for the Second World War!

After the war she continued with her secretarial job and was wooed by my father, a widower with a young son.

They married on Boxing Day 1952 and moved to Poole. Apparently my father carried my mother over the threshold of their new home and placed her into a pool of water. The pipes had burst after a freeze.

The house today (Google streetview)

I was born in May 1954 and my sister in 1959. When I was born, rationing was still in place and times were hard. Even after rationing and when my sister was a baby my mother used to walk the 5 miles into town with both of us in/on the pram, walk the length of the High Street comparing prices and then return buying the cheapest items from her shopping list. If she had saved 3d (just over 1p or exactly £1/80) she would buy herself a Milky Way or Bounty Bar chocolate as a treat. Then push us all home.

Returning home she would record the spend in her notebook. I have seen the book but I think it no longer exists.

Possibly following in her father’s footsteps as a market gardener, she also grew most of our vegetables in the back garden, Parts of which could at times be almost swamp-like. I remember potatoes, cabbages, brussels sprouts, rhubarb, cauliflower, peas, beans and many other staples cultivated by my mum. At the time it seemed normal and we thought nothing of it.

The garden today (Google Earth)

My father died in April 1975 of peritonitis after wrong administration of drugs following a fall caused by his rheumatoid arthritis in April 1975. He lived long enough to meet my son, born in December 1974. My mother spent almost exactly half her life as a widow.

Mum eked out her pension by getting a part-time job in the local library and also by becoming a well-loved and respected “Dinner Lady” at our local primary school. I think she did this job for around 20 years.

When I was first divorced we moved back in with Mum, who looked after my young son (who started at the above school), and my younger daughter while I was at work until the kids went to live with their mother.

Mum was a lady of old-fashioned principles. She always believed in the concept that as a mother your first duty was to your children, and that it was a terrible thing that women had to work for money rather than look after their families. But she managed to do both.

She hated dogs, and raised a fuss in the local newspaper about inconsiderate dog-owners and excrement left in the park, but seemed immediately attracted to our own dog, on whom she lavished much praise. Of course he deserved it because he is my dog and thus perfect!🙂

Eventually she ended up in what, to quote the late Terry Wogan, was “a home for the bewildered”. She had mild dementia and could be cantankerous. When I last visited her, on her 93rd birthday, with plans to take her out for a cream tea to one of her favourite local garden venues, she eventually reluctantly got dressed, too late, and the best we could do was to push her in a wheelchair around Poole Park (a lovely place nonetheless) and buy her an ice cream.

My mum. Stoical, resourceful, frugal, steadfast, loving. But above all, MY Mum.

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General Whiskers

Wargaming butterfly (mainly solo), unpainted model figure amasser, and Historical Re-enactor of the black powder era.

7 thoughts on “Life (and death) disruption. My mother.”

  1. Very sorry to hear of your loss. We lost both our mothers in the last little while and it’s remarkable how similar the experiences have been, when someone has decided.

    1. Thank you.
      For years my Mum has been complaining that prolonged life was a curse. I am pleased that she could pass quickly and quietly. I was resigned two years ago that I would never see her again, but was able to visit on her 93rd birthday. But she never got to choose her 93rd Christmas gift ☹️. Shopping trip planned for this week.

      1. I meant to say, in the case of Gillian’s mother, she was asked whether she wanted to watch the rugby, and being told when it was on, said she didn’t think she woukd last that long. She then announced ‘it’s been lovely, but I am finished’ and that was it. My own mother exercised her sense of humour, asking us to play Adios Amigos by Jim Reeves, waved at us with the music, then turned her face to the wall, and didn’t speak again. Indomitable women who worked to bring up their families, they would have approved of your mother I think. It is never easy, but it gets easier.

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