It’s 6pm on a Sunday in the middle of September, 2020. 30 hours earlier, and despite his wife being about to give birth to their third child, my friend Richard has driven from the Cotswolds to collect me in Hertfordshire and roared up the motorways to North East Wales, so I can see my 86-year-old mum safely. Only a few days earlier she was discharged after 8 weeks in hospital, returning home with a diagnosis of multiple myeloma. And here she was, being stretchered into an ambulance to return again, the four-hourly liquid morphine failing to offset the pain or mitigate the weakness resulting from losing 1/7th of her body weight.
The paramedics explain that they’re going to drive nice and slowly, as my mum’s stomach feels unsettled. She asks why, though.
“They’re going to take it nice and gently, as they have precious cargo on board, mum. That’s what you do when you have something special and fragile to transport”
There’s a beat. And then she lifts her head to address us, her audience; “I told her to say that.”
One of them instinctively lunges towards me to catch me, as I almost fall over laughing.
Last Thursday, the 10th March 2022, marked my bright, funny, beautiful, and cheeky mother’s 88th birthday. But I am sad to say that she didn’t live quite long enough to see it.Continue reading “Slowly, and then all at once”