There is a point to this. My intention has always been to record my journey with mum’s illness and ultimately to pull something out of it that I can share with other families in the same situation. What I have found is that there is a great deal of medical and technical information about the illness but little that digs into the day to day stuff and the moments when you recognise a trace of the person, the bad, the funny and now, as we get to the end, the sadness and the reality that soon she will no longer be.
Mum is tiny, and very frail. The few words that she speaks are blurred. I forget that she normally wore glasses so now, her vision too must be blurred. She can’t hear very well and it’s hard to talk loudly when instinct tells you to talk in a hushed voice. She has limited movement. She can’t shift herself into a more comfortable position and often she wriggles into a position that looks very awkward. When I ask if she is comfortable she seems to think about it for a bit then says a slow, elongated “yes”.
She is not eating much; although she ate a whole tub of creme caramel that I brought out for her. She can no longer chew food and eventually she will not be able to swallow.
She seems to understand more now than she has in the past. I asked her if she would prefer to get up and sit with the others or if she was happier in bed. She said ‘in bed’. Perhaps she was just repeating my last words and it is wishful thinking on my part since I have insisted that the nursing home staff do not hoist her about and instead, let her rest out her last days in bed. They have this contraption that they use move the residents who can no longer walk. The purpose of it is to save their backs but it is a most degrading process. I have watched her cringe with fear as they hoist her up and over then move her from bed to chair to shower chair back to chair then into armchair. Her little body hurled around, up over and down like a spare part on a production line. All the while they coo at her, “its alright Janet”.
I asked her if she knows who I am. She looks blankly and so I tell her I am Jill, her middle daughter. A little while later she starts a sentence and my name is in it. I am sure she knows at least that she is with someone who is close to her. She reaches her hand out from the bed covers and gestures for me to take it. We hold hands until the carer comes in to change her into her night gown.