Wednesday, March 21, 2007


- as seen from my parents house. Not this visit (new moon at the moment) - a previous visit. And not quite as it looked to me in fact - but this is what my camera saw.

I've been spending more time with my mum, who is beginning to slip away from us.

She dozes off constantly, anywhere and everywhere. She opens a letter, but falls asleep before managing to extract the contents. She eats her child-size portion of soup with effort, napping between mouthfuls - and sometimes its uncertain if the spoon will ever reach her mouth.

(yesterday evening she asked for smaller cutlery.... the usual cutlery is "too heavy")

At the worst times she's confused, incoherent, uncertain, reaching a point where she shouldn't be left alone - and may wander around looking for reassurance if she is. And then suddenly, she's in the kitchen putting dishes away. Before sitting and dozing off again. Its so strange, and surreal almost, sometimes makes us smile, sort of. Except that now, she's increasingly likely to be anxious and restless, which is so hard to see.

Her pain control has been pretty good up to now, thankfully. Although she rarely uses the word "pain". Its "discomfort" at most, and not usually acknowledged much, but theres this thing she does with her mouth which gives it away. Her "tell" I suppose.
Its my family's way, the archetypal British `mustn't-grumble`. Today she told me she was "feeling pretty rotten" - a rare admission, and needing - I imagine- to be multiplied by 20 or so, in a kind of symmetry to the way I divide by about 20 most of my daughter's claims to being in pain.

LG's pain threshold, actually, is increasing I think, with the onset of quite severe period pains. Experiencing the same in my teenage gave me a high pain threshold, I always thought. Stretched by pneumonia about 15 years ago. And then heightened waaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy beyond that by childbirth. But even with that extreme pain, its possible - feasible - to relax and breath through it and know it will pass.

This constant pain in my chest just now, with no physical cause, is much harder to deal with.

Another blogger coping with a death wrote last year about living with a dying loved one being like living in a parallel universe. I'm good (too good?) at getting on with the day-to-day and finding things to be positive about, and there is a lot in my life which gives me joy and where I can relax and find some peace. And my blog recently has been mostly everyday and mundane and maybe doesn't often reflect the other universe from which I sometimes feel I'm watching it all. I don't think (i hope) that thats dishonest. There is still comfort and laughter in life.

But then theres also this .....

.... which I want to be honest about too.

Mum has told me - and a couple of other people - that she's beginning to feel that maybe she is ready, wanting, to be in the hospice now. She hasn't told my father this because she knows he wants her at home. He will find that particular letting-go so hard.

But it feels as though the end may be in sight. And I think we all hope, for all our sakes, that it doesn't take too long.

Don't feel you have to comment, I know its hard sometimes to know what to say, isn't it? But i know that some of you have been through this. And that some of you care a lot. And it helps - itsn't it strange? but it does - to know that there are people listening out there.


Cream said...

It is hard, very, very hard.
When I was young I wanted to die before my mother because I couldn't bear being without her...
Yet, life went on...And now good memories are what I have and cherish...

Bird said...

my heart stopped for a moment, and tears stood in my eyes - just seeing the post title and the picture - i thought your mum was gone.

ah. and sigh. and ah again.

my mother died of lung cancer in Nov. 2000. her last few months (she refused treatment - the right decision for her) was spent preparing for her passing. she told me stories. made copious lists of her possessions and to whom they should go (when she was small, her family was torn asunder by crazy relatives who argued over the possessions of a departed one - she feared that...)

i miss my mum.
i miss my mum.
i miss my mum.

i think of you and the journey you are on with your mum. i wonder about the journey your daughter is on as well - because it is all wrapped up together - your mum fading, your daughter stepping more and more into her womanhood - how strange are the lives of women.

my love and good thoughts to you, your mum, your daughter.

sorry to have gone is, after all, your journey. thank you for giving us a glimpse.

Wendz said...

Letty I can't say anymore than I know where you are and my heart goes out to you and all your family. This is not an easy time. Thinking of you. xxx

Antipodeesse said...

I'm listening too.

ramblingwoman said...

my heart too goes out to you and your family Sal.


Steve said...

I haven't been through it yet, but I certainly am sorry you're facing it now.

I don't think blogging about the other things in your life is dishonest. As you said, life goes on even during difficult times, which is what sustains us. I'm glad you can use your blog both to tell us about the everyday as well as the difficulties.

Listening here, too!

Dizzy said...

Letty, thinking of you and M and LG.

I don't know what is worse, to lose your parents suddenly or to watch them become poorly and fade away.

Stay brave. Sending you all my love. xxx

Rosie said...

I went through it with my own mum and know what a difficult time it is. Best wishes to you and your family

Ex-Shammickite said...

You are right, it's very hard to know what to say to someone going through what you are experiencing. But the good thing is that YOU have something to say. YOU are able to share your feelings, and express YOUR needs and frustration, and difficulties. And confronting your own fears and sorrow is half the battle.
Good Luck, you know you have many bloggers around the world thinking of you as they read your post. Keep smiling.

Calamity Tat said...

I am listening Lets as always. just here never far really.. My mum died suddenly as you know when she was 52.. we weren't the best mother and daughter team but still, it's hard to lose your mother at any strong...and when you need that break remember my house is always open to you.. oh and LG just as long as she dousn't have a period hahaha xx

tut-tut said...

It is damn hard to lose your mother; mine went VERY unexpectedly of a massive heart attack in March 2001. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of her, and wish she were around to tell all the unexpectedly funny and wry moments that occur, and only she would also find funny.

I'm thinking about you, Lettuce.

Pod said...

oh dear. ever so dear. please blog what ever you want, we don't mind at all. and you can be as honest and graphic as you want too. it sounds like your mum knows bless her. try to face it head on letty, we are all here for you. being strong is great, making her laugh and dealing with it with humour really helps, but being strong is also being small and being weak. i have two hands to hold and two big shoulders and a big warm heart whenever you need them. i shall be waiting by the rink


Donna said...

Oh Letty, I just don't know what to say, I'm so sad for you. Your mum sounds like a lovely lovely lady. xxx

Reya Mellicker said...

I'm so sorry you're having to deal with the impossible, something everyone has to deal with, letting go of parents, but it's still impossible to think through in any normal way.

Your post is so humane, loving, patient and clear eyed, Lettuce. This is why your readers love you so.

Sending warmth and strength and lots of good energy in your direction as you move through this completely difficult time. Take good care!

The moon pic is amazing! Like an eye!

grumpy old woman said...

Dear Lets, reading your blog takes me back to the time when my mum was fading. It's so hard, yet amazing how one can still find humour in the darkest of times.
We are all here for you .........

grumpy old woman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
grumpy old woman said...

Sorry, the deleted comment is mine - blogger had posted me twice.

Anonymous said...


I wish you and your family peace and love and strong shoulders to cry on when the need arises.

Divina from San Diego

Pod said...

ah, see we're all here

PG said...

Oh Lettuce, and you took time to comfort me...motherless as I am, I am feeling for you, it doesn't make it any easier I know, but I will take time out each day now to send a little thought your way. And virtual hugs.

Joyce said...

There is nothing to say, but that I was here, standing by your side.

Vintage to Victorian said...

I'm listening too, and remembering my best friend who died 20 years ago last month, aged 38. She was more like a sister and I was with her the day she was told there would be no recovery. I still have my mum, but lost my dad 33 years ago. Thoughts are with you.

Mr Farty said...

I know how hard it is, I lost my mum five years ago and still miss her warm smile, her kind words. I wouldn't have the strength to blog about it though.

Thinking of you.