The many and various ways I pass the time now has a new addition. Usually it involves drinking coffee whilst sitting at a computer keeping in touch with chums, or sipping wine sitting on our tiny terrace catching the sun, and wondering what else I can do to avoid any cleaning or tidying or putting away of stuff and things that aren't even MINE. And now I am going to type this blog. Provided that doesn't become a chore as well, in which case...

Monday, 17 June 2013

Bidding Adieu...

 Winfred "Freddie" Bulmer, born 1 October 1917, peacefully dying June 2013 Our Ma, whose long and impressive life is inching quite serenely towards its end.

When we saw her yesterday she was in warm, well-appointed and comfortable room on her own, lying propped up on pillows but semi-comatose.  She wasn't able to open her eyes, but she was aware we were in the room and her mouth made little movements in response to some of the things The Husband said as if attempting a smile or an answer, but we may have been imagining that. 

I could see at a glance she was at death's door, waiting patiently to be admitted.  We wept a little, and held her hand and stroked her hair and chatted to her for a while, trying to keep the tears out of our voices.  When we were satisfied that she knew we had been there and that we loved her, and ascertained she had much rather be left alone, we went off in search of some information about the medical side of matters.

Her nurse for the day, a delightful Spanish woman, filled us in on as much detail as she was able.  She says Our Ma has deteriorated rapidly since her (the nurse's) last shift on Friday. Then she had been able to say a few words, but now she is beyond that.  Our Ma's blood pressure had dropped abruptly that morning, which is a sign that her remarkable heart is failing.  She has oxygen to enable her to breathe more easily. 

They will stop administering anything by mouth now as she is so likely to choke it wouldn't be kind, and in any case is as though she is heavily sedated, even though she isn't, so it would be impossible.  They will just keep her lips moist with wipes and her body hydrated with a saline drip.  The nursing team had spent three hours with her on Sunday morning, getting the room to the right temperature for her comfort (35.5C), bathing her and taking care of the skin on her arms which is dry and cracking in places like eczema, so she has been bleeding in odd spots
, perhaps where she has scratched it in her previous restlessness.

The nurses had asked the doctors to stop by and see her as they feared she may be suffering somewhat so they want her to be written up for morphine.  That way, they hope she can slip away quietly with no more pain.  The nurses suspect the discomfort is from internal bleeding.  She really doesn't have long.  Hours rather than days, probably. 

We timed our visit well.

The Husband took it all on the chin like a big boy, but it doesn't matter how old we are when a much loved parent dies we are for a while an orphan in the storm.  He told The Daughter on the phone, when we emerged from the hospital, that he felt "an eighth of an inch from crying". Much later, on our journey back to Wales in the car, I teased him that when Our Ma is gone that will make US the top generation at the head of the family - The Olds!  Did that mean we would finally have to grow all the way UP?

But no, we we have decided we have done all the growing up we are ever going to do. We put the bins out and pay the bills, keep the garden tidy, and drive sensibly.  I have brought a child up to maturity and had jobs doing this and that, and he has done forty years of very conscientious meticulous work as an engineer. 

Soon, he and his sister will be arranging their mother's funeral, and that is plenty grown up enough for one year.


  1. No, not long now, Marion, from what you say. I hope she continues to be peaceful, painfree and obviously well cared-for and that she knows in some inner corner of her being that she is much loved and will be much missed. I'm so glad you were able to see her.

    1. Thanks, Big Sis. It is a Big Thing, and an emotional time, but we are not sad. The Husband is emphatic he is not sad. We have no guilt or regrets that we didn't do enough for her when we could, so we can approach it all with something very close to equanimity. Our Ma being 95 and two-thirds helps on that score as well. What a great age, and what a stupendous life!

    2. Knowing that her death will mean an end to the last few years of great incapacity takes away much sadness and will let you remember her at her feisty and characterful peak.

      I just love the photo, which wasn't there when I first commented.

    3. No, it wasn't. I had to have a hunt for the folder I put it in when I scanned it a few years ago, so added it later.

      I shall always remember The Husband's stories of her as the woman who, if she was feeling mischievous and the fit was upon her. would answer the phone by barking "War Office! Wanna fight?" into the receiver. I hope Saint Pete has got a champagne cocktail ready for her when she arrives at the Pearly Gates, or she won't want to go in!

  2. Hari OM
    This is a truly wonderful post Marion. What a gorgeous woman, that photo has all the mystique of a Greta Garbo! To honour the life and accept its passing is the very best elegy. May she not linger now. Still in prayers. YAM xx

    1. Thank you, YAM. I have always thought this had a touch of Lauren Bacall about it. It's my treasured belief that the young Freddie may well have recently seen To Have And Have Not (You know how to whistle don'tcha? You just put your lips together and blow) when she posed for this photo, but as she was already 82 when I first met her in 2000 she said she couldn't remember.

    2. ..oh yes of course Lauren! I shall take a vegetable mocktail in her honour, with lemonade for the bubbles - I have a strong sense of Your Ma wriggling her nose and saying "now gargle"!! xx

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  3. A wonderful post - to live to such a great age and die peacefully with such care and love - what more could anyone want.

    You are in my thoughts and prayers.