I had arrived in England on January 29th, 2004, and found mum disheartened and depressed after a stroke in the fall of the previous year. The stroke had been followed by several gastrointestinal infections, which had sent her back to the hospital where she had remained through her 77th birthday in December; Christmas; and the whole of January.
She knew that she had to accept the physical and neurological losses that resulted from the stroke but she seemed to be in a dark place with no hope for the future.
But a spark had come back as we began plans for her return home. On Wednesday the 4th of February, I spoke to the social worker working on her discharge, which was planned, complete with "package of care," for the following Monday. I had asked if she could come home sooner, since I was there and could support her. It didn't make sense for her to be in the hospital when she was no longer sick. It felt strange to have to ask to have our mother back from a system that "had" her. The social worker said that I would know the next day and that she would also be coming out to do a health and safety inspection of Mum's home.
When the call I was waiting for came, to my surprise, it was to say that Mum was on her way home, by ambulance. A short while later, the ambulance pulled up and opened its doors outside 42 Snake Lane, and through the lace curtains I saw Mum, wearing a pink cotton hospital gown and her cardigan, swathed in a white hospital blanket and walking in her slippers up the garden path, accompanied by two ambulance attendants. They carried a plastic bag, which they handed to me at the front door, labeled, "Patient's Belongings."
Shortly after Mum arrived, Margaret the social worker arrived to discuss Mum's ongoing needs and to do the inspection. Bit by bit I was finding my way through a new world of District Nurses, Social Services.
Mum was HOME!!! How profoundly simple, but how wonderful that was. No more trips to the hospital to see her. She was with us. From this point on, we were together again as a family.
I cooked a meal--the first one since arriving just over a week before, and Rob and my nephew Tim joined us for it. Taking command of Mum's kitchen was something I had not done in the past. She had particular ways of doing things and it was easier to step back whenever I was there and let Mum take care of the cooking. She had cooked her last meal over three months before and would never have any interest in preparing food again. It felt good to do it for her.
That night I helped her get ready for bed, and I tucked her in, arranging things close at hand that she might need in the night. I left her with a prayer that angels would be around her bed.
I went to bed with gratitude for the opportunity to love Mum in a way that would make a difference. I drifted off thinking of plans for the next day--a new beginning for all of us.
To be continued....