Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sort of back here?

Lamp, India building

Yesterday evening it was incredibly clear, we could see Snowdon from our bedroom. It always means a lot to me when this happens.

I woke around 4am with the Harvest Moon shining in my face through our bedroom window. I woke John to look at it (not being mean here - he likes to see things like this), but he saw it later on his way for his early morning swim.

Had a bath today. I think this is the first bath I took since the morning of Mum's Funeral. It took me about half an hour. It was great to wallow in warm water, and while doing so I began to think about how would be good to finish off our bathroom... Already broke one tile by opening the window enough to look out and take photos.

It's a real shame, as our bathroom looks great.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Tribute to Mum

Today was the day of Mum's Funeral. While I hope to write more about the last few days (very busy, very tiring), I wanted to put up my Tribute that I read out at the Funeral.

Rhena Jane

30 October 1917 - 13 September 2007

Mum was born and brought up in Dolgellau, where she lived until she married Dad. She was the third of five children, and she, like the rest of her generation, saw many changes in her lifetime.

As a child she had a candle stub to light herself to bed. She remembered when electicity arrived in Dolgellau, with a grand "turn on" of the street lights.

All her life Mum loved the mountains around her home town. She and her friends would climb Cader Idris on summer nights to watch the sun rise from the summit.

After their marriage Mum and Dad lived in North Harrow, until a merger of the London and Lancashire Insurance Company and Royal Insurance brought them to West Kirby.

Mum and Dad were both sad to leave their home in Harrow, but soon settled in, making many friends. Mum was a very sociable woman, and Dad and I teased her about all the Coffee Mornings she went to!

Mum was a very practical person - she cooked, shopped, washed, ironed, cleaned, gardened, sewed and knitted. She did all the decorating around their homes, even learning to tile the bathroom as it would have been months before anyone was available to do the work for her.

Mum was a wonderful cook, her cakes were fantastice - Butterfly cakes, orange cake, lemon cake, coffee cake, but best of all, chocolate cake, which was my Dad's favourite.

After many happy years in Kingswalk, my parents moved to Spindrift Court, where they enjoyed the views of the River Dee and the marine lake.

Throughout her life Mum continued to return to visit friends and family in her home town. Mum especially loved babies and small children, and took great delight in latter years watching her Welsh nephews* growing up.

When Dad became ill, over 2 years ago, Mum insisted he returned home to Spindrift Court, where she nursed him until he became too poorly for her to manage. Because of her tireless efforts Dad remained in the home he loved with the woman he loved for as long as possible, and we had two further happy family Christmases together.

*should be great-nephews! I got confused,


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Long day Friday

Hamilton Square

Hamilton Square Gardens, Birkenhead

Friday was a very strange day. We spent hours in the Pyramids Shopping Centre in Birkenhead at one point, killing time. After trundling round for ages on the possibly visually appealing but very uncomfortable paving for a wheelchair user I felt I was beginning to lose the will to live... But at least I got a pair of cheap purple Crocs clones half price, so not entirely wasted!

We spent part of Friday morning making phone calls to arrange appointments. We rang Mum's solicitor, who was out, in Liverpool for the morning. His clerk, of course, knew already - he is also the Coroner.

We left a message for Mr E, Mum's accountant (also out), and will probably speak to him next week sometime. John thinks it was R that he spoke to, who had dreamed Dad had died - I hope he wasn't troubled by dreams this time round. Guess not, as I think he'd have mentioned it as we met him shortly after Dad's funeral.

John rang the Bereavement Office at Arrowe Park Hospital and arranged to collect Mum's effects. Her new slippers, the clothes she was wearing when admitted, and her wedding ring. They gave us the Doctor's cause of death certificate for the Registrar, and a form for the Funeral Directors, to be signed for the release of Mum's body to them. It was different to when Dad died, as he had to have a post mortem, so the Coroner's Office sorted out the medical certificate I think.

We made a provisional appointment with the Registrar (at Birkenhead Town Hall) to register Mum's Death, dependent on the paperwork being faxed from the Coroner by 3.30, or it would have to be Monday.

After the trundle round the Pyramids, and several phone calls to try and get things sorted we went to Posh Nosh Kitchen in Market Street for some lunch. I first heard about them on the Breakfast Liverpool blog. This is our second visit, we ate there the day we went to register Dad's death. I had the Full English Breakfast that time, and it was very good. Very nice to get Ulster Fry as well as black pudding!

All day breakfast

All day breakfast, yum!

John had the Full English Breakfast this time, but I went for double egg and chips. The chips were absolutely superb - the best I have had for years. Crisp and golden on the outside, melty potato in the middle, just perfect. Dunked in runny egg yolk, I felt in heaven.

Double egg and chips

Double egg and chips
(one egg nearly eaten already!)

We had the same seats in the window of Posh Nosh as we did last time. I can't believe I didn't notice this picture on the side of a building across the road on the corner of Henry Street before!

Corner of Henry Street

John had a couple of calls while we were eating, stepped outside to take them. We still didn't know if the paperwork would get faxed through in time, but after eating we decided to go to the Town Hall anyway in hopes all would be in order by the time of our appointment.

There was a marriage at the Town Hall when we arrived. We were about an hour early for our appointment, so we took a short walk in Hamilton Square. We sat for a few minutes on a bench, but despite the sunshine the wind was a bit chilly, so after taking a few photos we walked back to the car for John to collect the papers we needed, and then on to the Registrar's Office.

Birkenhead Town Hall

Birkenhead Town Hall

It was comforting to see the circle of life, two happy people and their family embarking on life together, as we went to register a death.

At first we were told that the paperwork hadn't come through, but John had had a phone call from Mr J to say he had faxed it through himself since his clerk had gone home. So they checked the fax machine and then told us to go through.

We met the same Registrar as we had when we registered Dad's death. She was very kind, and told us how much she enjoyed the work she did. While she has to record the sad events of life, she also has the happy aspects - birth and marriage - to record. She was looking forward to Saturday when she would officiate at two marriages. Should you read this, thank you A. for being so approachable and helpful - your kindness is much appreciated.

Then it was on to the Funeral Directors, Charles Stephens on Bebington Road, Bromborough, who looked after Dad's funeral. John signed a lot of papers, and we were helped to write Mum's obituary for the both the Welsh and English editions of the Liverpool Daily Post, and the Wirral Globe (freebie paper).

G and J at Charles Stephens were fantastic when we were dealing with Dad's death and arranging the funeral, and I am confident that they will be as incredibly helpful and kind this time around. But I'm sure that they won't mind me saying that I hope I don't have to deal with them again any time soon! ;-)


Dad and Mum on their honeymoon, September 1947.
I think this might be Clovelly?

Note: updated 5 Nov 2007 to add link to Obituaries for Mum and Dad.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

End of an Era

We had a phone call from the hospital to say Mum's breathing had changed around mid day. I didn't manage to take the call as I was in the bath and couldn't get out fast enough. So John took the call at work and then phoned me back.

John came back from work to take me to the hospital.

Mum died shortly before we arrived.

We were able to spend some time with her, and everyone was very kind. I talked to her, and stroked her forehead. I told her again that I love her. I know that it may sound silly to some folks, but it made me feel better to talk to her.

We then entered the more surreal part, but don't feel up to writing about that just now.

When we got home John spent a long time phoning family and friends.

I guess the best way to describe how I feel is numb.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Just a sad update

Tiny boat on the Mersey

A tiny wind and tide tossed sailing boat on the River Mersey

We spotted this little boat on Saturday on our way over to Arrowe Park Hospital. This makes me think a bit of our situation - there's that tiny boat out there on a huge river, battling on through the waves. Wind against Tide makes for rough water.

Wednesday last week after observing Mum on the Clinical Decision Unit over the previous 2 days she was moved to a ward and has been put onto the Liverpool Care Path for the Dying (LCP). They found that she had both lung and urinary tract infections, so had her on a ?saline drip and also intravenous antibiotics. They kept her on these (which they started while were there on the Monday Mum was admitted) for another 36 hours to see if she showed any signs of improving.

The first we knew that Mum was on the LCP was on Wednesday when John and Helen visited, but I didn't go. John went to the hospital this Monday, as nobody had really told us much about how things had proceded. I think we were too shocked by how suddenly and fast it all happened to ask before.

We've visited most days since Mum went onto the LCP (though I had a day off Monday as so exhausted by all the travelling), and we sit and chat about what's happening with the family news, and reminisce about past times.

One day we even had a bit of a sing song with the lady in the next bed!

To be honest I doubt that Mum can hear us any more as she's on so much medication (given via a pump) and looks as if she's sleeping. Every day when we phone we get the same message, which can be summed up as: "She had a comfortable night, no change."

John was back in work yesterday for the first day since (I think) last Wednesday - we just can't plan anything, it all feels so awful. We're just waiting for Mum to die, makes me feel rather like a circling vulture.

We went over yesterday evening, but only stayed about 20 minutes. I was able to stroke Mum's forehead and tell her again that I love her. While I have actively disliked Mum on numerous occasions, she is still my Mummy who was my world when I was a little girl. The love was still there.

John phoned Norah, one of Mum's oldest friends the other day to tell her what was going on. Her response was that she thought it was good that Mum was finally getting some respite, that her recent life wasn't at all what she wanted.

I think both John and myself felt better for hearing that. Norah has been a tower of strength and help when things were awful around the time John began to use Dad's Enduring Power of Attorney and Mum was rampaging up and down to the banks and accusing them (and us) of all sorts.

It may sound silly, but I can't bring myself to begin thinking of the F word yet. We both still have a feeling that Mum will suddenly sit up in bed and demand a cup of tea and some pink ice cream.

Nothing seems very real at the mo, and I've had a couple of really bad episodes of depersonalisation that have freaked me out somewhat. Finding it very difficult to eat anything, and frequently not sleeping very well either.

But slept 12 hours straight last night, so am feeling somewhat better today. And the sun's shining too, so that always helps.

Tower and Echo Building

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Mum is very ill

We had a phone call on Monday from Mum's nursing home to say that she had been admitted to hospital. We went to the hospital and spent about 6 hours there with her.

Tuesday John and I had solicitor meeting arranged in the afternoon, and then went on to see my parents' accountant. Helen went to visit Mum. Who was initially agitated, but then calmed down and Helen held her hand.

This evening Helen and John went over to the hospital. They are giving Mum final care, trying to keep her comfortable. We can visit any time. Hope I can get early bath so we can get over early in the morning.

Hospital will call us any time if there's a change.

Mersey Tunnel ventilator building

Mersey Tunnel ventilator building