Sunday, February 05, 2012

DIARY 150 - A Death in my Family

In the early hours of the 20th January my Mother died. She'd been just ten days out of hospital. But the Mother I saw five days before on the15th January was not the same woman I'd visited barely a month before. She was frail, tired, dizzy and quite depressed after three weeks in hospital. Something of my Mother's spirit had been broken. A mild heart attack had left her with feet that could at any moment spontaneously start to jiggle. She kept regretfully recollecting the loss of her physical control, vitality and capability. It must be hard being still mentally alert, and hence fully aware of ones physical decline. Now she was dependent on carers to wash and clothe her. Whilst the constant loving attention of my Father tried to do the rest.

She perked up a bit over the weekend, and my last memory of her was the fond kiss and loving beam of her smile, as I left to catch my train. Her condition didn't improve much over the next few days, her blood sugar levels still fluctuating wildly. Then on Thursday night whilst brushing her teeth, she had a fatal heart attack and keeled over into the shower cubicle. The emergency services got her heart going again, but by the time she reached Scunthorpe General Hospital she'd not been breathing for quite some time. Reluctant to revive her because she would have lost all mental capability and consciousness, she was thankfully allowed to die.

I was on retreat at Padmaloka, just beginning the second day. That morning after meditation and breakfast I sat in my room, and heard much walking up and down the corridor outside. I thought 'one of those people is going to knock on my door.' As previously arranged, Jnanasalin had rung and left a message. My Mum had died, and he and Aryajaya were already half way to Padmaloka to pick me up. As soon as I hung up I sobbed heavily for a while, as yet that's the only crying I've done. Once back in Cambridge, and after a call to my sister, there was a quick turn around and re-packing before Jnanasalin and I set off for Crowle.

January is a busy time in Crematoriums, with all the backlog from the Christamas and New Year break to be caught up on. So my Mother's funeral ended up not being until the 1st February. The fortnight in-between I stayed with my Father, and Jnanasalin came, went and came back again. When he was here we went regularly out for coffee and cake in the morning and for a drink in a local pub in the evening ~ just so we got out of the house for a while. But mostly we cooked meals for my Dad and kept him company, went with him to register the death, and started sorting through draws and cupboards. Oh, and we watched lots of trashy day time TV, mostly quizzes and several antiques programmes. No, you really don't want to know which ones. They are addictive.

My Father seems outwardly fine, quite philosophical and, externally at least, emotionally equanimous. But then it really is impossible to read my Father, to tell how he's feeling, he gives absolutely nothing away. There's just his genial kind smile.The funeral when it did arrive, was a blessed relief. I wrote a eulogy that the minister read for me. Family and friends arrived. Jnansalin, is only known as my boyfriend to a handful of my closest relatives. I didn't think it appropriate to bluntly 'come out' to them at my Mother's funeral. My Mother would have been embarrassed and mortified. However, even though I quietly presented him as 'a good friend of mine' the cat was recognised as out of the bag, much more than anyone expected.

Anyway, I'm now back in Cambridge, and reacquainting myself with my life here, after the strange activity-less existence of my Crowle bardo. Tidying up is one of those things I like to do before I re-engage with something. So I've spent the last few days, re-organising, pruning the gently inflating range of my
possessions.  I've been attending to the needs of my Dad, and that meant I had to put my own to one side. Today, I was walking to Tesco to print out some photos of my Mum & Dad  and I felt grief-like emotions stirring themselves.  I imagine that these will continue to ruffle the surface and depths for sometime to come.

The strongest moment so far,was the morning after Jnansalin and I had arrived at my Dad's. I came down stairs to take my usual morning shower, I instantly noticed there were blotches of my Mother's blood and scuff marks still remaining from where she'd fallen into the shower cubicle. I paused briefly, for a moment feel distinctly unsure as my emotions griped and churned. Then I took a deep breath, and had my shower, making sure these last tangible reminders of my own Mother's death, were washed away, so as not to perturb anyone else.

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