The birds sing me awake with their morning chorus of trills, chirps and exultant, full throated songs.
It is still early and I burrow deeper into the duvet. I am more night owl than lark, and my first waking moments normally consist of groping for the alarm clock that has already gone off while my fuzzy brain calculates whether I absolutely must get up.
Strange—because at the end of each day I feel that I could go on forever and going to bed at a reasonable hour is something I find hard to do.
I listen for stirring in the next room, and several times a soft bump or bang has brought my brain to full alert as I jump from the bed to help Mum.
The steps in the dance of our relationship have changed and I find my feet stepping awkwardly, unsure. I try hard to convince her to stay safe, while aware that she is not a child. I try to imagine putting up a bedrail for her safety, and I can’t. As Robert says, that would be crossing a line, and yet her legs are frail, weak and unsteady and she weaves precariously even when I am helping. As I assist her back into bed this morning she indicates that emptying the commode is the way I can help. Message understood.
I administer eye drops and medication that makes her choke or gag, I think, “I don’t want this to be what our relationship is about.” But it needs to be done.
The last few days have been emotional as her carers come in and out and spend time holding her hand and sitting with her after doing her care. There are several who have become deeply attached to her; she is a favourite. “We love caring for your Mum,” they say. But love has been a lump in the throat for all of us in the past few days.
We anxiously wait for Dr. Potter’s visit to discuss our worries and questions. He listens, examines her gently and carefully, and raises going to hospital with Robert and I, but most importantly, with Mum. She says, “No, no, no. I would rather die.” But she cannot resist our pleas for her wellbeing, and she agrees to go. I thank the Lord that dying will wait for another day.
It is Monday, the day that she would normally be at the Sycamore Club, across from her flat and her friends are there. I go and tell them all that she is going in to hospital so that they won’t worry when they see the ambulance pull up. They are thankful and send me back with their love.
An hour or so later she is being carried to the ambulance on a stretcher, bundled in a white blanket. The door of Sycamore Club opens, and the windows and door are instantly filled with her friends, waving. They remind me of a flock of birds suddenly appearing from within a bush. They call out, “Goodbye, Pieter. Get well soon we all miss you!”
On our way: Mum with Sue the para-medic