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The Spark

By Belinda

Monday, February 2nd, 2004--only day 4 of my trip to England to help Mum get her life back her stroke on October 20th, but it felt as though I had been there so much longer. 

When I first saw Mum in the hospital, changed on the outside: depressed; resigned; disheartened; slowed and limited in communication and physical abilities, it had been very hard.

I agonized over encouraging her to make the trip to Canada that I suspected had compromised her health. Had the risks been worth the wonderful memories we had made together over our four precious weeks together? Had my selfish desire to have her with us, exacted a terrible price that she had to pay?

I prayed that in the four weeks I now had to spend with Mum, I could make a difference for her. 

Already a first sign of life--a Cadbury's Flake bar eaten--the whole thing! With enjoyment. Such a small thing--how could that be significant? But it meant a step back from depression.

Rob had to work, so in the afternoon I caught a  bus to the hospital. The journey that would have taken less than half an hour by car, took two hours as the bus lumbered along, but I was not in a rush. Suddenly removed from the busy pace of my life at home in Canada, I had all the time in the world.

Before leaving I had called the Social Worker at the hospital, and we planned to meet over the next few days.

Mum was in better spirits. We had the treasure of an hour and a half together, munching on cheese and onion crisps (chips.) Mum needed only a little persuasion this time, to have a party!

We reminisced about many things in her past, and I read the Daily Light to her, and a short letter from The People's Friend, one of the magazines which her friend Trudy Cluderay had dropped off. Mum used to sit on the same hard, polished pew beside Trudy every week when she attended Alvechurch Baptist Church.

She told me she didn't read anymore but didn't mind when I read to her. We looked at photos of our home and the completed renovations that had been underway during her visit with us. Mum said it looked lovely.

The next day I found Mum sitting up and wearing her glasses. She had not wanted Rob to leave them before, but had agreed to wearing them on one of our visits and let him leave them that time.

I had taken in an enormous bunch of bright flowers; orange tiger lilies, yellow carnations, and white chrysanthemums; which her friend Trudy Cluderay had brought around early that morning from the church. 

Mum said, "They must think an awful lot of me." 

Suddenly she asked, "How old am I?"

When I said, "Seventy seven," she said, "Oh? I thought I was much older."

It was strange that it didn't feel odd to be having that conversation with Mum.

She told me, "I felt like giving up, but knowing that you are here has given me a spark." I tucked those words away in my heart, a treasure to cherish, and told her that it only took a spark to get a fire going!

As wonderful as the visit was, I hoped that Mum would be home soon, although I wondered how it would feel to have caregivers coming into the home to put Mum to bed and get her up. It felt like opening up our private world to strangers. Yet she needed what was called a "package of care," for when I would not be there to help.

The next day Mum was not as clear mentally or as clear of speech when I arrived, but I brought a little note book in which she could write, as I wondered if that might help with her communication when she was unable to retrieve a word verbally. In it she wrote "Mrs. Diana" and a last name beginning with W that I could not decipher. I teased her and we laughed together about her "going incognito."

She was so anxious to come  home, and just as we were talking about it, Margaret, the Social Worker that I had spoken to, arrived!

She was a kindly woman of around my own age, and it was she who was putting together a plan for Mum's support system which she said was to start the following Monday, four days away.

I asked if we could have Mum home before then, since I was there and could care for her. Margaret said that would be the domain of the medical team caring for Mum, but they would call on Thursday, the next day, to let me know. It felt as though our lives were in the hands of so many "others," kind though they were. Meanwhile Margaret would be coming to do a health and safety inspection in preparation for the caregivers starting on Monday. 

The week I would leave, Meals on Wheels were also to start.

I was so grateful to be there and to be able to help smooth the path home, both for Mum's sake and to support Rob, who had been alone up until now.

I looked forward to the news promised the next day, of Mum's return!

To be continued...


Anonymous said…
I really related to the statement about your lives being in the hands of others. It is a vulnerable and somewhat powerless place to be. I know during my own journey of illness I have felt like a piece of driftwood - going back and forth, back and forth on the waves. The direction was unclear and all at the whim, or at least in the timing of others. Yes, many of the hands were more qualified than mine, and often kind - but I was no longer the captain of my own ship. I did not like it. Still don't.

I often said to my mother that I don't know how older folks cope. The information is mind boggling, the expectations high, and everyone thinks what they say is the most important - and 9 times out of 10 the info contradicts the person preceeding!

Mom was blessed to have you there during that rocky time.
Yes, anon, it is no secret that those who have family and who have those who visit get a different level of care- a horrifying thought, but it's true. Belinda that 'flake' story is a powerful one and one that is often told in the disability community - the day that joy is allowed back, the day that the thought that it might be possible that life still holds more.
Susan said…
I can't wait for "tomorrow" and Mum's homecoming and I'm afraid, that since this is December, and filled with parties and get-togethers and pies to bake and cards to write and presents to buy that tomorrow will "never" come!

Hanging on in Alliston..

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