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By Belinda

I'm sorry that the story of Mum's stroke and how that impacted all of us, has taken so long to share! I am almost finished.

Tonight I am rereading words I wrote on February 25th, 2004, on a plane flying home to Canada, reflecting on the month I had spent in England and all that it had meant to us. Here is some of what I wrote:
It was so hard to leave dear Mum this morning, but I feel so grateful for having had four precious weeks with her and for all that God enabled me to accomplish. 
So many supports have been put in place: Her feet are taken care of; hairdressing appointments arranged; supplies ordered; vision checks scheduled; care givers organized (well "organized" sounds too militant--but what I mean is that they know Mum a little better than they have done without me;) and--so wonderful--Mum has been out with people--her friends--to the Sycamore Club.
It was so different leaving Mum this time. I found myself caressing her and kissing her so often, especially over the last few days. Yesterday I said, "I love you Mum," and she said, "And I love you too," in her slightly slurred way of enunciating words now. It is still easier for her to repeat back a similar sentence to what has just been said to her. She said then, "I know I don't show it very much," and I said, "Oh, Mum, you show it every moment of every day."
I am praying that God unlocks her speech more. So often she would want to say something and would stop, with a perplexed expression, unable to access the word she wanted. I would guess at what she was going to say and sometimes would get it! Other times, most often when she was under pressure to answer a question from someone less familiar, only unintelligible sounds would come forth, and I would see the person she was speaking to, stop, thinking that she would say more. I hope they keep trying. The funniest moments were when Mum would answer one of my questions with a hilariously unintelligible phrase and look at me as if I should have understood, and when I said, "Pardon Mum?" would repeat exactly the same phrase. I was just as lost as ever, but we were laughing, together. She never minded. I never saw her angry or frustrated. Sometimes she said something to someone else, that I understood perfectly, but they didn't, and they would stop talking. I felt like saying, "No, don't stop, that made sense!"
This morning we had 20 minutes with Mum before the taxi came at 5.00 a.m. to take us to the airport (Paul had joined me for the final two weeks.) Before her stroke Mum was always up, making us coffee, seeing us off, but this time she lay in bed and we kissed her and said our goodbyes and left. As we drove away I thought of all the changes over the years. Dad always used to rush to carry our cases to the car, but gradually gave in to our insistence that we do it. Our final glimpse of home always used to be both of them standing in the doorway, waving us off.Then last year it was just Mum, and now Mum was content to remain in bed and be kissed.
I wonder what thoughts she was thinking as we said goodbye. She says so much less now because it is such an effort to pull the words from their hiding place. In her stillness and quietness though, she is still Mum and possessed of a gentle sweetness. 
When I think of how I feared that we had "lost" Mum, I laugh. How right was the insight God gave me, that the essence of those we love does not change and that we love them powerfully as they are in a way that is inexplicable in its purity.
Now my thoughts turn to home--to managing a different life and different challenges until I can come back again, should God grant me that blessing. 
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