Monday, May 31, 2010

Mother X

At seven-thirty yesterday morning one of the team of people nursing my mother at St Margaret's Hospital phoned to say that her condition had deteriorated overnight and that they expected her soon to give up the ghost.  I was not surprised by this.  Since, over three weeks ago, the hospital first expressed their fears for mother's imminent demise her poorly condition appeared, until the middle of last week, to remain remarkably stable.  Through recent days however, the draining of colour from her face and her need of an oxygen mask have been clearly indicative of a sharp decline in her condition.
Yesterday was a very long day.  Soon after receiving the phone call, my sister and I and our respective partners, drove together to the hospital.   Mother was unconscious, and although her lungs were obviously congested she was breathing regularly into her oxygen mask.  The information her nursing team gave us suggested that we would not be staying long at her bedside but the morning passed slowly into afternoon with no noticeable change.  We had in the room a newspaper, the truly awful 'Sunday Post', which we were each grateful to read from cover to cover.  We read and re-read labels on bottles and jars, the essential trappings of  hospital rooms.  We talked about nothing.
  I was reminded of the passage in 'Wolf Solent' (Ch 24)  in which Wolf, a bored schoolmaster, passes time allowing an ink-stain on his schoolroom wall to feed into his mind imaginings of escape.  By early evening we were beginning to wonder quite what we should do, as far as we could see mother was again 'stable'.  The hospital made a 'family room' available to us, somewhere we could, if necessary, take it in turns to rest through the night.  But it was not to be necessary.  Quite suddenly mother's breathing quietened and slowed until it finally, almost exactly twelve hours since the morning phone call, it stopped.  Mother had lived over a month into her ninety-second year.  He life had been a good life.  For the better part of it she enjoyed comfortable abundance and good health; until last December she had never been admitted into a hospital as a patient.  Her life ended apparently painlessly and peacefully.
Requiescecat in pace.

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