Lifestory Showcase - Chappell
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Mother was to move to another bungalow in the September, she is a little nearer me now but not with me, we shall never live together again but we could just pop across the road to visit each other. She went on helping me with cooking, washing, gardening etc. just as before, still able to drive the car we could still go out together which got less and less as lifting my wheelchair was getting too much for her.
She still did all the shopping and would either bring my meals to me and on Sundays and sometimes during the week I would go on my scooter to her bungalow and have dinner and tea with her. I was getting Home Care every morning to help me bath and dress, make the bed etc. as they do now.
Unfortunately mother was losing her hearing, which really came between us as these years went by, with my speech problems and her deafness there was a lot of bad feelings and bitter memories over this. Mum tried and bought several different and often very expensive hearing aids to overcome this but none of them really helped and she would like to not wear any hearing aid and said she enjoyed her own quiet world.
Whenever, we met we were both on-edge, and in the end we both dreaded meeting which usually ended in a big rows and tears for one or both of us. Often we had no sleep after this and bad feelings, but being Mum she just could not keep away but would often threaten to, but always came back.
I would try to calm down and think about all the things she had done for me, but she would always be reminding me of all the things I had done and said wrong all my life. She could not seem to talk about any of the good things we had done and the things we had achieved over the sixty odd years, I think now that it was being alone for so long every day.
Mum seemed to relive every moment we had lived together. Through her accidents due to overbalancing, she was having falls and the ambulance was taking her off to Causality quite regularly. Unfortunately it would be stopped opposite my gate and I would see it happening often late at night, so I would be worried and could do nothing about myself; and it was best that I kept out of the way.
Mother became very bitter, refusing help of any kind for herself. It was so sad, as here at almost 90 Mum never made a friend of her own to invite in for even a cup of tea or go out with. She did try to join a Club once for elderly people, but could not hear what anyone was saying or join in conversations; it was just a horrible babble and noise, which she could not tolerate. She became a recluse with just her dog as a faithful companion.
What she did hear and understand, I am sorry to say she would criticise, everybody and everything, no one or nothing was right, especially what ever I did or said. Although I knew she still loved me and worried about me, and my future when she was no longer around, day and night. While I had accepted this was going to happen at any moment, she had given trying and was hoping and praying to die as soon as possible; she just could not or would not laugh or smile or talk about the good times we had enjoyed together as we used too.
But living alone, I knew that I was overcoming so many other things in daily living which she had always automatically done, such as making cups of tea, I do that now, hardly without thinking about it.
All this began when she fell over in her garden when children were aggravating her or she them, they tried to drag her dog under her gate, causing her to fall badly. At the time, we thought it was just her hand, that was badly cut, but she had a broken wrist in plaster and a sling for months was of little help, as what had really happened was a damaged shoulder that was never treated properly.
She worked on this shoulder herself for the next six years, but what had always been, her wonderful supply hand was out of action, the pair of hands that had always done so much for me were now no more. After a long while, Mum tried to drive the car once more, she would never agree to getting rid of it before she had tried again several times, but after her last effort, I was told to sell it quick, which I did and never knew what had happened.
At around this time I had bought myself a new scooter and tried to persuade her to use the old one. This she would not even try, and began trying to walk to the local shops and post office to draw our pensions etc. of course, one day she was mugged, by a schoolboy on a bike, who rode up behind her, grabbed her shoulder bag and was gone, leaving her on the ground. There were eyewitnesses but her bag was never seen again, although she saw a boy who was wearing the same cloths and the bike that had been described to the police.
Why did you do it son, why! Oh why!
What made you snatch a handbag as you passed by
What have you gained, what satisfaction
You have a lot of money, now what action
Are you going to take?
It will do you know good in the end you will make
A mistake to let people know what a fool you have been
As you did not ride your bike away from the scene
Without being seen by many who will remember what you look like
When you carried away that bag on your bike.
Little boy, please bring it back to the old lady who could have been ‘gran’
Please grow up son, and become a decent man
And to the other chap who brought the books back
But spoilt this gesture with lies
By giving a false name and address, was that wise
Who was the family involved in this crime
Please come forward while you have time
To bring up your son a better way
And don’t forget he will be a parent one day
You, and he will be old and disabled in some way
Will you expect to be treated by another?
As your son did today to my mother
This shook Mum’s confidence once more but she began to drive and use the scooter which I think she enjoyed as she could also take her little dog in the basket to the shops. For awhile we kept the scooter in my garage as we lived very near each other again by now, but with an incline to walk up and her walking getting so bad she was using a wheelchair to push up to my garage and back each time she used her scooter.
When this had got beyond her, we decided that, if she kept it in the garage belonging to her bungalow, there would be no slope to negotiate. Until one day, she must have come back, went indoors with the dog and her shopping, and closed the door forgetting to put the scooter away. So not until she went to use it about a week later we discovered it had disappeared, never to be seen again, this really was the end for her.
This was two days before Mums 90th birthday, she was devastated and finished, she really did want to die, she could not hear, walk, no friends, convinced I did not care anymore, everything. My brother and his wife came up from Dorset on the Sunday for her birthday, I went to see her in the morning but kept out of the way, Derek came to see me with the dog just before they went home and for some reason took Mums dog with them.
I knew why, the next morning when she phoned, saying, ‘I was to go and buy an old scooter just for her to get to the canal to drown herself’ this had to be the end for both of us, I could cope no longer alone. Rightly or wrongly I rang the doctor, saying Mum was suicidal! In what seem to be no time at all, while I was phoning Derek, a nurse who we knew was at my door to say a Physiologist was with her and an ambulance was on the way. She was to spend the next two weeks locked away trying to prove that she wasn’t mad. I kept away, letting others take the strain, it was all to upsetting.
Mum was also having treatment and a few weeks later she was back in the same hospital, but another ward with bowel cancer, which nothing could save her but to undergo surgery, which she refused. Between going from one ward to another. Mum had come home again and got her-self moved into another bungalow on another estate about two miles from here.
This would have made life much, much easier for both of us; had it happened much sooner rather than now. She had exchanged bungalows, which we could both drive our scooters indoors. We had found her another scooter by now. I drove my scooter with her to her new home.
We heard no more about suicide, she looked very happy, relaxed and like a queen on her thorn when we left her that evening. She only actually lived there, less than five weeks out of ten, by this time she was dying, weak and so helpless, had carers (a thing mum had always dreaded) and a private night nurse until a bed was available in Willen Hospice where she lasted five days in peace and tranquillity.
The nurses were so wonderfully kind to her and to me when I went to get the death certificate and I went into see her at peace at last, she had gone to her Maker and was with her Dad who has a child had loved so much. I had spent a whole day with her, two days before she died, she was so lucid and placid but living in the past, she was back at the old cottage at Durnford, she said that, ‘the water she was sipping was from the old well it was lovely!’
She said people were over there sat outside the pub drinking from cans, not glasses as they used to, this was her happy childhood memories returning to her. Just as I was leaving, she gave me a lovely smile, as I had not seen for years, and said to me ‘You are alright, aren’t you?’
I said ‘Yes’. Had I said ‘No!’ I am sure she would have tried to get up and come home with me. This will always be how I shall remember her death. This was October 15th 1998 at the age of 91.
My brother Derek and Elizabeth were away, but had arranged that her body be taken back to Dorset where the Service and Cremation was to take place when they returned from holiday. Leaving Sally his daughter, that end and me here to sit and wait, I did not attend the funeral as I felt it was too far to travel for such a short time.
A poem I had written sometime before about our life together was read out during the service with my photograph on her coffin, so I was there amongst the mourners. Cousins we had not seen for years since we were children attended. I got the impression when they phoned me, that they were surprised that I was still living and breathing!
They all took a copy of my poem. Afterwards, I saw them months later, the following year when we gathered at the churchyard to bury Mum’s ashes in the grave with her great aunt and uncle which I knew was her wish, we did so on what would have been her 92nd birthday on June 7th 1999.
1907 TO MY MUM 1998
My mum has been with me right through life
Has cared for me through trouble and strife
She has always been there, struggles to share
No matter what happens she shows that she care
Now that she is old and need help herself
She will not give in or let me down
It is me she thinks about before her self
Whatever the trouble she is always around
For sixty-seven years that has come and gone
It is mum that has been around
To help me, to encourage me to overcome
So many struggles through life we have won
Walking and talking was the first
As my disability showed that was to get worse
A cabbage they said, your daughter would be
But mum knew best and stood by me
She gave all she had, in money and kind
Anything to show that is wasn’t my mind
That was damaged that day at the moment of birth
Nothing was good enough for me on this earth.
My hand control, speech problems or walking
She soon was to get me talking
Without help or advice, there was no one out there
She battled away with her love and her care
To help me to fight with all of her might, to show them all
That we could win through whatever befall
Mum would work with those hands that was all that she had
Now she is all alone and lonely, which is very sad
From the day I was born she has never been free
As mum has given her life for me
Work, work, work she would never shirk
A few more pence would buy something to stop my jerks
To prove to one and all how I have grown
To live independently on my own
How things have changed in such a way
That I am living alone today
No matter what happens, happy or sad
Some days are good - some days are bad
Like everyone else I take each day
To work itself out, come what may.
Many years has gone by since I wrote this rhyme
More than ninety has gone by in time
For mum who is still living alone
We still see each other or contact by phone
As time went by for Mum who lived to be over 91
This was read at her funeral for me.
For the next eighteen months I had learnt to settle down without mother, her death was a blessed relief to her, as she was prepared to go and had been praying to die for a very long time by now. In her heart she knew that she had finished her work of caring for me, knew she could do no more and resented the home carers and the new friends that I had found to help me.
I had my now got my chequebook etc. from her and was in control of my own life for the very first time at the age of 69. I was employing extra help once a week and a gardener, so those problems were solved, they were also helping mother.
Around this time I had also found myself a very special gentleman friend who really help and care for me, Brian, I suddenly found that, “I was growing up” “I was my own person.” Making new moves, mistakes which I had to find ways of solving.
Mother could never really give me up, it was her life and habit for almost 70 years and could not or would not ‘let me go’ the umbilical cord would never snap. It seemed to me that everything I did or others were doing for me were wrong, she would criticise even the smallest every day things, e.g. keeping my hairbrush in a different place.
Our life together was to end with so much bad feeling and resentment when we should have been just good friends and company to one another. Instead it was just a dread and strain on both of us for several years.
I was always please that she did move away about two miles from me into a better bungalow on another estate, even if it was only to be ten week, most of those in and out of hospital and what she had always dreaded most; having to be ‘cared’ for by others instead of doing the caring herself.
But she looked so much happier and contented in her new surroundings. By now, she had been without her very faithful companion for three months, her little dog Pippy as when she began going in and out of hospital, she ask Derek to take the dog back to Dorset with him, this really surprised me when this happened, the last thing I expected her to part with, but I suppose it was because, I could never have looked after the dog.
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