My mum is a sparkly sort of person. On form she is charming, intelligent and artistic. She comes from a tough and long lived family. My great grandmother lived to 100. My grandmother, a 40 cigarette a day smoker, clocked up 83 years. My mum will be 93 in November.
She lives alone and independently in her own home in Cambridge. Reads The Times everyday and is a passionate armchair horse racing fanatic. She negotiates very steep stairs and doesn’t have grab handles beside the step to her front door.
“I don’t want them Darling. That’s the sort of thing that old people have.”
I suppose like me and so many of us, she still feels young and vibrant inside. The passing years just mean that some parts of the body just don’t work as efficiently as before.
“I know that it’s on the cards that I will die sooner rather than later, Chicky. Let’s hope that when the time comes I just slip quietly away.”
I tend to brush that sort of remark quickly aside when I’m with my mum. You could spend an entire life dwelling on the death that will inevitably come. Although, like mum, I do believe that it’s important to treasure each day as it could be your last. Somehow her dynamism and love of life make me feel that she will go on forever.
So it came as a shock when I discovered yesterday evening that she had fallen during the night and hit her head in her sturdy bedside cabinet. I have no idea how long she lay beside her bed, unable to get up. Luckily she has one of those nifty emergency call buttons that she wears around her neck. So kind neighbours were eventually alerted and she was taken to Addenbrookes hospital in the morning.
Today my sister and I spent the afternoon at the hospital. She was much better today but seemed muddly and so vulnerable. She is tiny, barely 4’10” – one of the few adults in the world that make me feel tall and rangy. The saddest thing of all was that she believed that she had been in hospital for days and why hadn’t I bothered to visit?
I know that a lot of people assume that with the cut backs, the older patients must be suffering more. This afternoon I was impressed with all the hospital staff, from the lady who found a vase for her flowers to the physiotherapist and the doctor who examined her. I had moved out of her cubicle when this examination took place and had to suppress a laugh when I heard this exchange.
Gentle doctor voice. “Now can you tell me where you are?”
Mum’s chirpy top of the class response. “In Addenbrookes hospital, Cambridge! Do you know where you are?”
I think that my mum is getting better.
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