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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Up at the nursing home

When I dropped by the nursing home today I found that mum had recovered somewhat after being quite poorly on Monday when she was very unwell and had tended just to sit on the edge of her bed hunched over. It is not a good look and makes you feel very inadequate and out-of-control. But today despite her rather ragged cough that has persisted for some time she seemed a lot more lively than then.

When I contacted my brother on the iPad and gave it to her, however, she tended to put it down on her lap despite being reminded to hold it upright so that her other son could see her face. Although I reminded her about holding the iPad a couple of times she still would lie it flat on her lap, and nod off. Nodding off is something she has come in recent times to tend to do at the slightest opportunity. She will just close her eyes softly like switching off a light at the wall, and her head will fall gradually forward, her chin coming to rest on her chest.

She has been fading to this point over the past few months, despite her heart failure being now adequately treated. She just doesn't seem to have any energy for anything else other than napping. If I ask her whether she wants to go out to the park to watch the dogs she'll just decline the offer, and say "No, I don't think so". She is gradually fading away into the endless slumber that awaits all of us on the other side of the final crisis. I saw my father die and I expect to see my mother die too. My father died at the end of his mortal tether, between ragged gasps that shuddered through his whole body. I don't know when mum will go but I am resigned to being a witness at that point in time, too.

I watch and wait as the signs of mortality become clearer and clearer. A few visits back mum said to me that the nursing home "Is a good place to die" and I agreed that the staff seem to supply everything you need to feel comfortable. "You did well to find this place," she will tell me on occasion, and I suppose it is partly due to the mysticism that seems to come over the elderly when they are getting closer to the end, and partly in order to make me feel reassured. In fact to be truthful I don't know what prompts mum to say these things. I do know that each time she does she is presaging in a dramatic way the final crisis that will come (to all of us eventually).

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