Monday 4th December 2005. Linda’s birthday, also the day Mum went to hospital for a bladder operation. The operation turned out to be bigger than was first envisaged and she lost a bit of blood, so had to stay in for a couple of weeks.
Luckily she was home in time for Christmas.
Sunday 19th February 2006. Travelled down to Evreham in South Buckinghamshire for a Judo Grading, a very long and exhausting two and a half hours of a grading! I managed to complete it successfully to come away with my 3rd kyu (green belt).
Monday 20th February 2006. By this time we had all been expecting Mum to be recovering from her operation, but she seem not to be improving, and if anything becoming more overweight and having problems with painful legs. The District nurses would visit her every day or two and change the dressings on her legs and suggest remedies for the almost constant heartburn she was getting. Her doctor would not come out to see her but prescribed different creams for her legs over the telephone and tablets for the excess acid.
In April of 2006 she went back to hospital for a CT scan. Devastating news, the doctors think they found a tumour……
She was admitted to Milton Keynes General two weeks later on Friday 28th April 2006, and whilst there did absolutely nothing to drain any fluid from her or make her more comfortable. On Tuesday 9th May 2006 she was moved to the Oncology ward at Northampton General Hospital. They finally drained some fluid off to make her more comfortable and began the process of building her up for her operation. They operated on Friday 19th May 2006 and successfully removed the tumour, but she didn’t come round from the anaesthetic until the Sunday. I visited her throughout the week and she seemed better some days than others. At one point I was sure she was having hallucinations or at least memory flashbacks to periods in her past. She insisted that we carry on with our holiday plans, so, on Saturday 27th May 2006, me, Linda and our two children travelled north to Cromer on the Norfolk coast. We had signed up for a five day Judo course not far from the camp site where we were staying. The course would run Monday to Friday.
Monday 29th May 2006. I had set my mobile phone alarm, so wasn’t surprised when it went off at 5am, but the ring seemed different. It wasn’t the alarm, it was the hospital, and the nurse had tried phoning my brother but got no answer (he doesn’t always hear his phone going off at night). She said that Mum had taken a turn for the worse and that I should get to the hospital as soon as possible. Being over 150 miles away and due to start a Judo course in a couple of hours, I didn’t know what to do. Having spoken to my brother, he said carry on as normal and he would keep me informed. By 8am I was so agitated, Linda took control of the situation and we packed up to come home. She telephoned my Judo instructor who was also attending the course and advised him of the situation, he said he would let the course organisers know that we would not be attending. We handed the keys back to the chalet owner (explaining the situation to her as briefly as possible) and set off for the hospital, by this time it was about 9.20am.
Mum passed away just before midday, I arrived about ten minutes later, and was absolutely devastated…………
Sleeping with CPAP isn’t the easiest thing in the world and takes some getting used to. When you have so many thoughts bounding around inside your head, what if… what now… what to do next… sleep is almost a luxury and virtually impossible!
The rest of the week went past at blistering speed as there was so much to do. If you have ever organised a funeral, at short notice (Friday 2nd June 2006) you will know how much there is to do. This was made necessary as my brother was due to fly to the USA on Monday 5th June 2006, and Mum had insisted when she was in hospital that we have our holidays and try and carry on as normal, so we felt he should still go.
One of the hardest things for me was registering the death. For one thing, it was in Northampton, for another, when I arrived I was asked if I had made an appointment!!! In my already distressed state, Linda took over and explained that the funeral was Friday, today was Wednesday, and we weren’t leaving without a death certificate! At this, the clerk managed to find a registrar who was free almost instantly (strange that!).
Having to repeat all Mum’s details and the events surrounding her death was not easy, even when it was so fresh in my mind. One of the simplest questions is also one of the hardest to answer, “What is your relationship to the deceased?” and this really brings it home that they are no longer there.
Friday 2nd June 2006. The day of the funeral was a bit of a blur, I didn’t drink any alcohol (I tend to avoid alcohol these days as it diminishes the good work done by the CPAP machine) but still felt slightly escaped from my surroundings, seeing people and talking to them but not really conscious of doing so, or of what I was saying, if that makes any sense…
My strongest memory of the funeral was the playing of Dvorák’s New World Symphony, second movement, Mum’s favourite piece of music (more commonly known as “coming home” or the hovis theme). I still keep a copy of this in my car so that I can play it whenever I think of her.
Tuesday 5th September 2006. Mum’s internment, another difficult day……
At some point in September My Brother, Sister and I, decided on a headstone and the wording to go on it.
DDA 1995 http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1995/1995050.htm