I made Dad and I some dinner had a bath and decided I would go by bus, as if I stayed, having the car with me would cause problems .Off I went not looking forward to this at all. My Mum was asleep when I got there. She looked so tiny in that bed, bearing in mind she had always been slightly overweight around 13st and 5` 4” was now about 6st if that.
It was about 8pm and in walked my Auntie Betty and Uncle Doug they were as shocked as I was Doug was visibly shaken and had to leave the room. My Mum stirred and I held her hand she didn’t appear to be able to speak. Auntie Betty said she was going to have a word with someone as she was really concerned, being a nurse herself she knew more than me.
When she came back with my Uncle Doug she said she needed to speak to me outside. She said they didn’t think she would last the night and had arranged for us to stay, a room was available for us. I just couldn’t take this in , it had been so quick from appearing to get better to stay at our house all that time and then 6 months later to deteriorate so much was unbelievable.
It was too much for Doug he went home around 10pm. My Mum appeared to be in a coma. The nurse said she thought it possible although my Mum wasn’t able to speak that she could hear us. My Auntie Betty said she thought I should try and get a couple of hours sleep as it had been such a long day for me. I did admit I was shattered so said I would go but that she was to come and get me if there was any change at all.
I held my Mums hand and said I was going to have a little rest but she squeezed my hand so hard and wouldn’t let go, my Auntie Betty said she thought my Mum wanted me to stay, with this she stopped squeezing my hand . So I stayed, that proved she knew what was going on. I was so shocked. That was it I wouldn’t leave her side.
My Auntie Betty went and got us a sandwich and cup of tea, although neither of us really fancied it but felt we had to keep our strength up. It was around 1am and I was really struggling to keep awake. I held my Mums hand and asked her if I could go and just have a lay down for 1 hour . This time she didn’t squeeze my hand but nodded her head as if to ok it. Once more I asked Auntie Betty to get me if there was any change and went to lay down.
Going to sleep was out of the question as the room was immediately above the staff canteen the noise was horrendous but at least I could lay with my eyes shut. I stuck it for about half an hour but needed to get back to my Mum. When I got there my Auntie Betty was asleep in a chair. My Mum, if anything looked worse she was very red and quite fidgety. I went to find a nurse and she came and looked at her and said she thought she had better get a doctor to have a look at her. All the commotion woke my Auntie Betty she was shocked with the change in my Mum in just half an hour.
The Doctor came and asked us to leave while he examined her. So we went for a little walk to stretch our legs. When we got back the doctor was just coming out of my Mums room and said that she was very close to the end and that we should now stay with her.
It was really awful just sitting there waiting. unable to do anything only hold her hand and talk to her.
Time seemed to go so slowly. I couldn’t get my head around the fact that we were sat there just waiting for my Mum to die. This would be the first person in my immediate family to die and I was terrified. I had no idea how my Dad would react, usually when he was under great stress he had an epileptic fit and it was my Mum who coped with the fit I had always been sent out of the room, as my Dad didn’t like me to witness it. Now it would be down to me.
I also was worried about my kids they loved my Mum so much, although they knew she had cancer and was very ill, her death would really shock them. I didn’t know how my Dad would cope on his own, although he had been doing all the housework and cooking he had always had my Mum on hand for help. I would have liked him to come and live with us because I could look after him but I knew it would be too much for him three kids tearing around, the twins were 10 yrs old and Lesley 13 yrs.
My Auntie Betty and I sat one each side of the bed each holding my Mums hand this was inhuman, if it was an animal it would have been put to sleep and able to depart this world with a modicum of dignity.
Suddenly the room went silent and we both looked at each other and realised my Mum had stopped breathing I was distraught I could not believe this was the end of my contact with my Mum who was also my best friend. I knew I was not handling this well but at that moment I felt my life was finished, irrational I know as I had my beautiful children to think of. My Mum was only 59yrs old she would not see her grandchildren grow up and get married etc….
My Auntie Betty went and got the Doctor and we were ushered from the room. I just couldn’t pull myself together, I knew I had to for my Dads sake. My Auntie Betty rang my uncle George and asked him to come and pick us up as we had done everything we had to do. It was a good job my Auntie Betty was with me to the end as I would have probably ran from the hospital.
I also had to inform my brother Dennis . He was living in Sheffield I didn’t know where nor did my dad. I would just hope he would get in touch with us. He was so into the drugs he probably didn’t know what day it was. We hadn’t been able to tell him my Mum was in hospital so it was going to be an awful shock.
We were nearing my Dads house and I asked if they would mind just dropping me off so that I could tell my Dad about my Mum, I knew he wouldn’t want anyone else there. Also if he did have an epileptic fit he would not want them there, silly I know but that was how it was. They understood and said they would go home have something to eat and then come back. I thanked them and went to see my Dad
My Dad was at the window looking very apprehensive I hurried in. I meant to be strong but the tears just poured down my face and of course my Dad new my Mum had gone. We collapsed in each others arms and we both just sobbed, unspoken words but I am sure we were both feeling the same a deep, deep sadness but also relief as she was in a better place, no more pain and frustration. Cancer really is an awful and degrading disease. We cried for what seemed an age and I said to my Dad we both needed a nice cup of tea .He said he would get it but I said I thought we should do it together and make a sandwich also. He said he hadn’t had anything to eat that day as yet he had a feeling about what was going to happen today.
He appeared to be handling it quite well. We needed this food as there was so much to be done now, funeral directors, registering the death as nothing could be done without this. Arranging the hall at the wardens centre for the mourners. There would be quite a few as my Mum had 4 brothers and 3 sisters and their families. There was also some friends and goodness knows how many we hadn’t accounted for.
My Dad was eager to get started as this took our minds off the sadness and loss, which would be huge, the enormity of it would probably hit us when the pressure was off.
I telephoned the funeral directors and he said he would come to the bungalow to talk to us this afternoon about 1pm. It was Tuesday 7th May 1975 a date that will stay in my mind forever. The funeral director said the funeral would be on the following Monday. My Dad said what he wanted and specified that my Mum had told him she didn’t want flowers, although in life she loved them. I had already spoken to the warden she said she would lay on some food for the wake. This was the norm evidently and we would be charged a flat fee of £50 which was very reasonable bearing in mind we had estimated about 30 people would be coming.
I was going to go home on Thursday, as I had to get some clothes for the funeral. I had decided not to bring the children they would be too upset, as I would only be able to tell them when I got home on Thursday. I personally thought they were too young and I wanted to let them think of their Nanny as they last saw her when she came to stay with us And we all had such a nice time. I asked my Dad what he thought and he agreed with me. He also said it was going to be a very difficult time and hard to keep ourselves together if the children got upset then he said we would all fall apart.
I really didn’t want to leave him on his own but my Auntie Betty and Uncle George said they would see that he was ok and visit him. It was only for 2 days as I would be back at the latest saturday , hopefully if I could sort things out at home I would return Friday.
I left my Dad at about 11am he assured me he would be ok. I had a good journey and got home about 1pm which was good because the children were still at school. I tidied the house up a bit made a fuss of our dog candy who was very pleased to see me. Mike was at work but had left a note to say he would be home about 4pm.
On the way home I had thought about the no flowers for the funeral and thought it would look awful with just the coffin. I decided I was going down town to the florist and see if they could help me. I was really glad I did as they said what about a Laurel Wreath that is all leaves no flowers. My next question was could they have it ready for tomorrow (Friday morning). They said they could and also that they would make it quite big to make a feature on the coffin. I hoped this was ok with my Dad as it was not flowers so we wouldn’t be going against my Mums wishes.