We visited Mum and Dad at the weekend. After long traffic jams, we met Dad at the door who said "Your Mum's not too good. In fact, she hasn't been for days". I saw her in her chair in the lounge, flinching as the children and dog approached her. My brother dragged me off for a few minutes to say "We have cancelled the holiday". They were due to go to France today. Always a mad idea in my view. However, having told her on hearing her diagnosis, that she was to live her life as she saw fit I felt unable to instruct her not to go.
The visit started badly. We had clearly walked in not long after Mum had cried and said she was letting everybody down but felt unable to go on the holiday. The tension was tangible. Mum was irritable barking at the children about forgetting their pleases and thank yous. It is difficult to know that Mum is feeling vulnerable which she hates so she lashes out whilst balancing that with protecting your young children.
Lunch was served in the kitchen but Mum stayed in the lounge. To reduce the stress, I started talking about Dad's previous career to move his mind of what it must be on all the time now. It worked and a good conversation ensued whilst the children played with their Easter presents and ate their chocolate eggs.
I went into the lounge to see if Mum was OK. I must have been there at her side for about three or four hours. Clearly she wanted to talk to me. Someone brought me a bowl of crumble and custard. I tried to eat it whilst choking with emotion and also the effort of hiding that emotion to protect Mum. In the end, I put it down where it happily congealed at my side. Another symbol and even now, I know crumble will have a whole new feeling attached to it in the future.
Mum showed me her documents from her medical appointments and from the hospice. It felt surreal. What is Mum doing with hospice information. Hospices are about dying. This cannot be. She shocked me by saying she wants me to visit alone without the children and also that she does not want them at the funeral. "I want them to remember the fun times". How can I argue with that? However, I want to scream that they should pay their tribute to a brilliant grandma.
Mum talks of old memories, of her childhood, veering from one topic to the next. She says that my Other Half has proved himself a good husband and father. She asks me to understand her initial reservations about him which I did at the time anyway. Unemployed single father was not in her plans for me but then it wasn't in mine either. Yet, he is the one for me and the one I run to (and shout at) now as I face what feels like the worst thing ever.