Last week, I was busily preparing a new post for this blog when some unexpected news came through, leaving me unable to concentrate on anything much since. Life has taken on a new light and we as a family are quite literally ‘on-hold’.
Ten days ago we moved my 88 year-old mother-in-law into a local nursing home as it had gradually become too difficult to manage her care around the clock despite daily help from a small team of carers. Last Wednesday, a blood test unexpectedly revealed that she is in acute, end-stage renal failure from which there is no return. Her days are acutely numbered. This news came like a bolt out of the blue and initially left the whole family reeling in shock. We were given the option to transfer her immediately by ambulance to hospital for treatment which might at best, prolong her life by a few weeks or alternatively, to allow her to die naturally within days with palliative care provided at the nursing home. The whole family were all in agreement that she should be allowed to end her days peacefully without the interference of emergency medicine and we have opted to maintain a bedside vigil for her in the nursing home. My in-laws are spread far and wide but over the past few days they’ve arrived in a constant stream to take their turn in helping to smooth the final journey of a much-loved mother, and granny.
My mum-in-law was a legend in her own right. She lived a privileged life and together with her late husband, raised four fine sons. She was an outstanding cook, seamstress and gardener in her day. She loyally moved location every three years throughout her husband’s career and everywhere they went, she set-to with gusto to furnish each new house using her old-faithful sewing machine. No task was ever too great and she was never idle. She always found time to spend in her beloved garden where she designed and created gardens that were the envy of all who knew her. When her four children were very young, she made all of their clothes and continued this tradition for her grandchildren making beautifully embroidered smock dresses for the girls, individually crafted hand knits, clever fancy dress outfits and gorgeous soft toys for everyone. She also produced many fine tapestries in her time. She was the stalwart of the whole family and her home was always a place of warm welcome with lovely home cooked food in abundance. She was well-renowned for taking under her wing children less fortunate than her own and she would lovingly provide them with the stability needed to thrive. When I first met my future mother-in-law, she welcomed me into the family with open arms and I shall always be grateful to her for all her love and encouragement over the years.
She’s had a very good innings but now her time is rapidly running out. She’s being kept very comfortable in the nursing home and has rallied somewhat due to a change in medication. In the past few days she’s been more alert than in many months and her family have been able to enjoy some special time with her. It’s like her final swan song before she departs. Her funeral will be a huge celebration of a life well-spent but until then, this is my tribute to the mother of all mothers.