Annette 2013

On 05 September 2018 my mother died. She was 92 years old and she would have preferred to die about 5 years earlier, around the time this picture was taken. She hated being dependent on others but a combination of physical disability and dementia meant that the last years of her life were spent in a miserable existence confined to a wheelchair in a nursing home.

Her last years of living at home and her one year of living in a retirement village before she had to go to a nursing home were really good times in many ways. I had some great conversations with her in which nothing was off the table.

What I will always remember and appreciate about my mother is her complete acceptance of others – and this was a common theme of those who spoke at the funeral. We always felt her unconditional love. That experience of being loved will live on in us, even though her physical presence in our lives has gone.


About oldblack

ageing and decaying, misanthropic, cynical...black
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9 Responses to Gone

  1. Julee McClelland says:

    Wow. I am sorry. I think you were lucky to have such an accepting person as a parent. While she felt she lived too long (for her taste) still, to live to age 92 is quite remarkable. I have always thought of you as a really caring son, who did everything he could for his mother in the years of her decline. Am so glad you had great conversations with her towards the end of her life.

    • oldblack says:

      Thanks for your thoughts Julee. I will indeed treasure the relationship we had as two older people, both looking back on lives that weren’t perfect but had some pretty satisfying and meaningful moments.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Oh Michael, I’m so sorry for your loss, but know it must also be a relief that she is no longer unhappy and suffering. Be sure to take care of yourself.

    • oldblack says:

      You’re exactly right about the mixed emotions, Simone. As dementia changed her I said goodbye to the person I had known all my life, so by the time she died there was little left to feel except relief. But since the day of her death, with my brother coming from Scotland and family & friends gathering for the funeral, the whole spectrum of experiences of her were recounted and re-lived. No doubt I will continue to feel ups & downs for a while yet.

  3. Julee McClelland says:

    I’d like to add another thought. If you haven’t already done this or are not yet ready, perhaps at some point you put out and could celebrate her with pictures, mementos, etc., that remind you of the way she was when she was NOT unhappy to be alive and living with dementia. Put them in a place you can regularly see them so your thoughts of her turn to the best times you had together. I know this might sound silly, but I did that for a cat that died (who was 17-1/2 – quite old). It helped me remember everything good about him; I left out a favorite toy and pics that reminded me of how sweet he was. It helped stimulate good memories, and also helped me to not be as overwhelmed by his death, since I had things out to look at that brightened my thoughts.

    • oldblack says:

      Yes, that’s a good point, Julee. I’m sorting out some of her stuff now so I can put aside some items that give positive thoughts and memories.

  4. Julee McClelland says:

    How are you doing now? With the holidays coming up I understand the first year of holidays after a loved one has passed can be extra difficult and emotionally upsetting. I hope you have access to counseling through work. There are a lot of counselors who focus on grief counseling, and perhaps it could be helpful with all the feelings/ups/downs/ you are probably still having and may continue to have for some time. Just a thought.
    I think about you and how beautifully and kindly you took care of your mother even though she was angry and difficult as she descended into dementia. I feel in the end she had to somehow be aware of all you did for her and the love you gave her. You are a person with real character and I admire you greatly for all you did for her.

  5. oldblack says:

    Thanks for your message Julee. I’m actually managing quite well. Of course there’s still plenty of ‘business’ issues to deal with to keep my mind focused on the day-to-day. I have been obtaining death certificates that I didn’t already have (for my father and sister) which are needed for probate, as well as tracking down all the information about her assets which is needed. I have also been spending a little while preparing my thoughts and emotions for the scattering of my mother’s ashes. My daughter is coming home for Christmas so we will be dealing with the ashes when she is here. My father’s ashes were scattered in our garden, where he spent many, many hours of his life (it was my parent’s house from 1959 to 1982, when I became owner). So my mother will be joining him. I found some quotations which my mother had found particular appealing, so I think we will read one or two of those. It will only be a short event, but will bring a degree of finality to her life. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    I hope you too are going OK – at least you’re still alive! America is such a strange place. The more I hear about it, the more I realise I don’t understand. I guess it is such a large and diverse country and we in Australia tend to hear more about the extremes, and things like mass shootings don’t occur in every town. Best wishes, stay warm!

  6. Julee McClelland says:

    The U.S. is going to shit with this wretched President. It’s embarrassing to have him representing us to the world, and believe me when I tell you many of the people I know are as bewildered as you are. It’s not the same place I remember growing up, and it’s heartbreaking to me (and many others).
    It’s good to have some finality when a person passes on. I think having your mother’s ashes scattered in the garden where your father’s ashes are a beautiful idea.
    Are you planning on keeping the house/moving in yourself? Or selling? None of my business, of course – just curious. Can’t imagine all the paperwork involved, esp. if you didn’t have your father’s or sister’s death certificates. Your mother didn’t have your father’s at the house somewhere? I had a friend whose mother died last year and fortunately he and his sister and brother were there for her last month. My friend went to her house before she died (she was in hospice) and sorted through all the paperwork, which was well organized, and found a death benefit that had to be filed within 30 days of her death in order to receive the benefits. He was so surprised, but grateful he found it in time. It’s such a good idea to have wills and important paperwork in order as we get older in order to make our transition easier for our loved ones.
    Please know I think of you and am happy to hear you are managing well. Also, thank God or whoever you don’t have a nut-job at the helm of your country! I’m sure the U.S. seems insane to people, but really not all of us (or even the majority) voted for “it” (I refuse to use his name) and we really can’t fathom why anyone in this country supported him. They still do, however. It’s about 34% of the population, and they have never wavered from their commitment to him. So I guess we are about 1/3 nuts, lol!

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