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Fragrant red roses

Fragrant red roses

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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  1. danast

    Just to let you know I am thinking of you all. Your Mum sounds like a real character with a great sense of independence. She reminds me of my great aunt who was such a wonderful lady, great fun and so sharp. She lived till she was 95 and thoroughly enjoyed life. Love to you all xx

  2. Sounds like quite a woman. Passing on my best wishes.

  3. Sheila

    Dear Fiona, hope your Mum continues to improve and gets home quickly

  4. Go Mum!!

    Glad she’s on the mend.

  5. Susan D

    Hope your Mum is better soon. When my Mum then 83 was in critical care she told the consultant to stop scratching his hand, at that age they can get away with it can’t they 🙂

  6. KateUK

    Sorry to hear the news Fiona- mine is 87 on Sunday and still out int he garden in all weathers.Every now and again when she complains about being forgetful ( I think just about everyone I know is less forgetful than she is) I ask her who the Prime Minister is and she replies “Mr Chamberlain/Lord Melbourne/Palmerston/Lloyd George” – fiesty as they come.Best wishes, hope she recovers fast!x

  7. Just wanted to pass on my thoughts to your mum too, and wish her a speedy recovery x

  8. I am sending my love and positive thoughts to you and your mum. I hope she goes from strength to strength and soon gets back to her own home. xxx

  9. Veronica

    Oh Fiona, I’m very sorry to hear about your mum. Great that she’s kept her wits about her, but it’s very scary when someone of that age has a fall. At least she didn’t break any limbs! I hope she’ll be home again soon.

  10. thinking of the days

    Oh your mum seems a feisty lady….I really like the cut of her jib. Good luck to her and you…

    My mum is the same….brilliant – I adore her…although younger than your mum..She was diagnosed with bowel cancer last year.Lots of complications following the op (long story….discharged after one day, collapsed three times, haemorrhaging on the floor etc…..)but is living to fightanother day and just as fesity!!!!

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