Thursday, 24 December 2009


(Pasted from Freethinking a day later, but see that blog for earlier details. For some reason my right click button is working again.)

Wednesday, 23rd Dec.

Jackie from Hawkesbury House rang me late on Tuesday to say that my mother had taken a turn for the worse and was now in bed all the time, semi-conscious at best and it was really only a matter of time. I said I'd call round today.

Then I got a call from Carol who had been rung up from an old people's home to say that a possibly pregnant cat had been coming in but they couldn't keep it there on a night. I rang them back and found out the home was about 20 miles or more away deep in the snowy Durham countryside and there was no way I was going to go there to a place I'd never been before in the pitch black on icy roads. Fortunately one of the staff who lived near the home agreed to take it for the night.

Then Susan took a call from Honour of Vets4Pets who was concerned about a cat that Carol was looking after as its blood tests did not bear out that it had been getting the prescribed medication and she wanted it away from Carol asap. I called Lynn the fosterer who lives not far away and she kindly agreed to take both cats. Then I rang Carol and told her. Needless to say, it wasn't an easy conversation as she didn't want to let the cat go and that she was caring for it properly. I told her bluntly that whatever the truth of the matter, if I didn't get the cat -Hettie, an old thin friendly tortoiseshell- Honour would refer the matter to the RSPCA and Animal Krackers would have them on us, not her. Carol gave way. There was another problem that evening which involved me going out but as it involves money I won't go into further detail.

Got up this morning, cleaned and refreshed several litter trays, had breakfast -porridge in the microwave- went for a quickish -half hour- swim, then to the post office to top up my mobile which had run out the previous evening, then home to sort out what I'd need. Ian F turned up with the van just after 9, we went to get some diesel then I had to go back home to get my mobile which I'd forgotten and then finally it was on the road down the A19 dual carriageway, with the sun shining brightly in my eyes, heading south. Missed the turnoff and added ten minutes to the journey before I could double back. Found the place okay, and country roads were all passable with just a little extra care, the cat was slightly plump and possibly pregnant -a young friendly soft-furred tabby. Drove back to Sunderland without further incident and dropped her off, along with some extra food and litter, with Emma, Lynn's 14 year old daughter.

I had time for a cup of coffee so I went back home and checked my email as I drank it. The post arrived and also the happy resolution to the previous evening's money business. Plus a tax demand. Back in the van, reversed around a tight corner, misjudged it and smashed the rear driver's side lights. After picking up the shattered plastic, I got back inside and drove to Low Fell to see my mother.

She was in bed, not asleep but not really conscious, just making unintelligible sounds from time to time, a hand opening and closing on the blanket. I stayed twenty minutes, kissed her on the forehead which she never noticed, and left. A nurse is visiting three times to a day but it's really a formality. The staff expect her to develop pneumonia very soon and that will be it. Mentally, she hasn't really been here for a while now, just a vestige, and now it's time for that to go too.

I picked up Hettie from Carol's on the way back and gave her to Emma. Happy to have attention, Hettie was purring loudly when I left.

Viv, our sister in law, whose turn it is to cook Christmas dinner, spend all last night vomiting. Alex, my student nephew, has been in bed with bronchitis almost since he got back from university last Friday. I thought it was our turn anyway so it looks as if I might be cooking the meal after all. This isn't a problem, it just means we have the mother in law all day.

I've a feeling that somehow this isn't going to be our best Christmas.

UPDATE: Christmas Eve.

My mother died just under an hour ago and Jackie from Hawksbury House has contacted the funeral firm my mother specified and they've been given my phone number. I was asked if I'd like to see her but I declined. I'd said my goodbyes yesterday. The funeral director will make arrangements as per my mother's instructions and sort out any minor details with me, but other than that I doubt if anything will really happen until the New Year.

And that's it.

There's been a slight thaw this morning but not enough to make much difference to the snow other than to make it a little slushy under foot. Lynn is happy with her two temporary guests, pleased at how friendly they both are.

Nick, Viv, and Alex are all ill so Christmas is cancelled. Well, not quite. I'll be cooking the dinner here with Susan's mother as our only guest.


The funeral director called me. The funeral will be the morning of New Year's Eve (a week today). The day before I'll have to call at Gateshead Civic Centre to register the death. My mother's solicitor will be in touch on Wednesday. Tuesday I have to... Ah, lots of stuff. I'll write about it after it happens.

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