We began cleaning the house, carefully taking every room apart and then restoring it. It’s thrown up some hidden gems – a packet of Hoola Hoops with a sell-by date of 2006 fr’instance. And it’s shown up my inner lawyer when I held up a rather sad looking piece of tupperware and offered a ‘we need to take a view on keeping this’. Much hilarity…
Today though a shoe box emerged from a cupboard with a torn envelope in it.
Inside same was a treasure trove of old correspondence, namely the letters I wrote to my parents between going to Uni in 1975 and getting too pretentious for such things – mostly the point at which I could afford a phone in 1984.
I pulled out one at random. 22nd March 1979, when I’d just started training as a lawyer in London’s West End. I’d become an articled clerk, a form of barely paid-for servitude. I shared this…
‘The office now I’ve settled into the routine a bit is rather a hit and miss affair with the most incredibly unco-ordinated filing system considering the importance of the documents and deeds in their charge though I’m reliably informed that when “one knows the system it is easier to work” – that I doubt. [Note my tendency back then for too long sentences] You’d need to have an Einsteinian brain to determine some of the puzzles thrown up by it.’
Later, I revealed it had been raining a lot.
‘Thus [yes, really I wrote this to my parents!] I thought, last Friday I’d purchase an umbrella. Well, sporting my new brolly I made my way to Tower Hill to deliver some documents. Having entered the office and been introduced to the person to whom [you’d better believe the To Whom] delivery was to made I tried to collapse my brolly completely to save clutter. Unfortunately, the new fangled weapon I had was operated by a powerful spring. Well, in collapsing the brolly the clip that holds the brolly in place broke and the dammed thing sprung open between my legs nearly causing a nasty accident much to my disgust and the recipient’s amusement.’
I did well to put the envelope to one side and continue only to uncover my diary for the period between June 2009 and July 2010. I opened it at random. July 20th 2009. I’m sitting at the cricket and the game is so engrossing I’ve become fascinated by the weather, especially the clouds. I penned this little poem
Mother of pearl clouds
Dipped in ash
Of thick white cream
Floating in a Wedgwood bowl
Scratched with scourers
Puffy remnants of nuclear war
Left-overs from a stuffed toy convention.
A blinding torch, a tube of power
Sears the shadows to the floor
Soft hues dazzled away
Forcing contrasts of dark and light
Keeping the sombre, heightening the fresh.
I seemed to be in the mood for poetry, albeit in a less than tolerant state of mind on the next Friday, the 24th July 2009 when I flew out of Gatwick to Frankfurt.
No bottled water
That gel is too much
100 ml of deodorant per person
Remove your shoes
Take out your mind and
Pop it in the plastic tray
And place it on the belt
With your belt
And belt up.
Open your bag
Open your arms
Open your mouth
And you’ll get to lie on the floor
While the biggest lie of all
Is it makes the slightest
And then I turned to 5th January 2010 and was brought up short by this entry
Feeling pretty bloody low – mum is really bad – a glance before I’m hurried out tells me all I need to know about her condition. The doctor this morning, or was it the nurse? – reported her kidneys were’t working even though they’d managed to get the blood pressure up to a level which they were happy with. As I explained to Linda I lay in bed last night having the most disturbing thoughts – all after her death, imagining it – but what all those practical matters fail to deal with are the emotional losses, the void of having no parents – maybe she will pull through. She’s always been tenacious and stoic but at 84, having been battling illness for some weeks…
The ink changes and then this
I’ve just seen a doctor – the critical care consultant. In summary
She has a failing heart – very large and erratic (hence the warfarin and atrial fibrillation
She had a perforated duodenal ulcer – to repair it was a relatively simple procedure, but it asked a lot of mum’s system esp her heart to increase the blood flow to cope with the post op stresses
Which puts pressure on her kidneys, which in turn aren’t good. One has already failed so she’s coping with one anyway and the good one has now stopped through lack of blood and the stress. Without that no urine is being passed and so the toxins are building up in her body.
At her age and with these complications dialysis isn’t an option.
Therefore if the kidney doesn’t start in a week she’ll lapse from the coma she’s in and eventually die. If the kidneys begin to work she will gradually recover.
But behind it all she still has a blocked bladder restricting the passage of the urine – for which she never had the operation she needed and now can’t – and without it she will continue to experience the half life state she lapsed into recently.
I wrote more, detailing the options, the steps, the maybes and the what-have-yous. I can remember that kind thoughtful honest professional, helping me come to terms with what was inevitable. I felt a desperate urge to write it all down once he’d gone, so I didn’t forget it as I knew I would. I finished that entry with this..
And all I think about are practicalities – which will happen all the time. So mordant, so morbid, so moribund…
And that made me think of those deaths we have reported every night while I prattle on about cleaning… each one coping as I had to, each regretful, annoyed, wondering at one’s own response. At least I got to see her…
She died peacefully two days later on 7th January 2010.
I’d better go back to my cleaning…