As you may know, I only note good anniversaries on the whole, but the exception is today, it being the fifth anniversary of the death of my mother.
She’d lived with us, in a Granny annexe, for 15 years, though she didn’t much enjoy it – she felt that she’d rather lost her identity, living in her son-in-law’s house, amongst other things, and she’d not been well at all for several years. She had numerous tests, but it was not until she became acutely ill in the September that a secondary cancer was found in her pancreas and we were told that the longest she could hope to live was 6 months. She had a stent put in to keep the bile duct open and was given painkillers and sent home. This was fine, I could look after her and we accepted the situation.
I’ve sometimes wondered whether to write about it all, but I’m not sure what I’d be doing it for. But I will say this – those final six months were fabulous. She became remarkably well and even was able to drive again. I cooked all her food – she had to have a very low fat diet and had become rather faddy about food in the years when she had cancer somewhere in her digestive system, so was often ill after eating: she blamed the food rather than her body because so many tests had come up negative. I’m adept at managing any type of diet as a result and never forget an allergy or preference. You want no gluten, no dairy, high protein, low GI, no nuts, fish or sugar, I’m your girl and will incorporate it into a meal with none of the other diners being aware of it.
Anyway, she was fine and, as the doctor had told us, she died quickly – she felt unwell on the Wednesday evening, was finally given a morphine pump on Saturday midday and died soon after midnight on Sunday morning. Quite a weekend, that, for another reason too – I’ll probably tell you about it some day. I could also tell you about her funeral, which was exceeded in complexity only by that of the Queen Mother.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but doctors like a neatness in their estimations. They’ll say “it might be three days, it might be three weeks”, for example. In her case, when she asked – as you do, I think it’s irresistible even though you know it’s pointless – how long she might live, the young doctor said “six weeks to six months”. It just so happened that he said that on 17th September 2002, which was a neat coincidence.