Remembering loved ones that have passed away

My mum passed away in Scunthorpe General Hospital on May 13th, 2019; she was aged 85.  She had been poorly for quite some time before she passed away.  We have always been quite a close family and I suppose as families go we all got on pretty well together; little did my brother and I know that we would go from sharing beds and bedrooms together as kids to one day running a company together, but that became the reality and fortunately my mum and dad were alive to see their sons work hard and do something positive with their lives.

My brother Graham received an early morning call from the nursing home that my mum had been in prior to being hospitalised to inform him that mum had been taken into hospital complaining of breathing difficulties and various pains in her body.  Both Graham and I returned back to the UK as soon as we had tied up as many loose ends as possible with our work; fortunately, we were able to get back in time to be with her during the final days and hours of her life.  The hospital my mum was in is quite a way away from our hometown, so when my mum was still on a general ward we would travel back and forth by taxi or by train, sometimes a taxi going and a train coming back.  When my mum’s condition deteriorated she was moved into a private room as that is the usual hospital practice for terminally ill patients like my mum that only have a matter of days, sometimes hours left to live.  At this stage, Graham and I often found ourselves staying in my mum’s room overnight grabbing sleep as and when we could because we didn’t know how much longer she would be with us.  Although my mum was very poorly, in between the Vera Lynn song (“We’ll meet again”) that we constantly played for her during this time, we were able to share some short conversations about old times together.  These conversations generated a fair old mixture of tears and smiles and the occasional laugh, unfortunately my mum didn’t have enough energy to laugh as much as she used to do, but I could see the joy in my mum’s eyes as her mind went back to those times.

My mum’s cousin, Enid, our half auntie, paid my mum a visit in hospital a couple of times before she passed which really helped my mum a lot; Enid also spoke about the good old days, particularly about when my mum and Enid lived together as kids for about 2/3 years during WW2.  Enid reminded my mum of the time when she was a kid and she accidentally sat on her father’s freshly painted portrait of my mum’s mother, my grandma, damaging the painting and breaking the wooden frame and her father understanding it was an accident, but still having to control his feelings as he’d spent ages painting my grandma’s portrait.  Through listening to my mum’s many childhood stories I knew well that my mum’s father was an artist, not by trade, he was a miner by trade, but he was also a talented artist; he died before I was born.  Talking about such times was quite an emotional time for Enid, Enid knew that my mum was slipping away and she felt obliged to try to hide her tears as best as she could from my mum, but it wasn’t easy.

At that time, my mum was still able to comprehend what was going on around her; however, that didn’t last for very long, soon my mum became unable to open her eyes and speak and we knew she was getting close to the end of her life.  We kept getting reminded by the nurses that were looking after my mum during that time that even though she had lost the ability to open her eyes and to speak, she could still hear us even though to us it also appeared that she’d lost her ability to hear.  With Vera Lynn’s “We’ll meet again” still playing in the background, both Graham and I were talking to my mum right up until her last breath and when she took it, it was high pitched and almost as though she was singing a note and then she was gone.  Graham and I loved our mum a lot, but the only thing we regret is perhaps not making our love for her known to her enough when she was alive, but I guess a lot of us think in such a way when loved ones pass away.

On reflection, there was a lot of concern before Graham and I left Japan for the UK that we would get back in time to see our mum before she passed away, but as we now know, my mum knew she had to use what bit of strength she still had to hang on until we arrived and that’s what she did.  My mum was a very kind and caring soul, always putting others before herself, which is a very noble and gracious thing to do, but like anything else in life there is good and bad in doing that.  For example, on one or two occasions she not only put others before herself, but she put them before her family members.  A good case in point I can remember was when her youngest sister, Pat, visited our home to ask my mum to lend her some money.  My mum knew that my father had told her not to loan Pat any more money because she never paid it back, but still my mum gave Pat some money and kept it a secret from my father.  I can remember my father finding out and the heated discussion that took place between my mum and father, but after that Pat never again came calling for any money.  As far as I remember, it took quite a lot of years for my mum to get the money back that she had loaned Pat, but she did finally get it.  Sadly, not long after returning the money she had loaned from my mum, Pat passed away; Pat was an alcoholic and with the money my mum had loaned her over the years she had bought alcohol and slowly become addicted to it.  My mum never asked Pat why she needed the money, she just assumed it was for helping to support the family because her husband’s job was not so highly paid, but when my mum did find out that Pat had bought alcohol it made her realise that by never questioning Pat as to why she needed to loan money she felt partly responsible for her death.  I believe this feeling of guilt stayed with my mum right up until the end of her life as she spoke often of Pat and how so unhappy in her life Pat was, and how much more my mum felt she could have helped her when she was alive.  Mum reflected a lot about this, as she did about a lot of other things and in many ways it impacted negatively on her life, so much so that in later years she suffered with her mental health.

I think about my mum regularly and I know Graham does, we miss her a lot; we know in our hearts that we always tried the best we could for her, she knew that.  We took care of her when she was sick and helped her in other ways when she needed it, she knew we loved her and we knew she loved us and we didn’t need words to convey it.   To be continued …………………….