Saturday, 6 February 2016


So it's been a while since my last post.

Forgive me.

It's all been a little bit frantic.

I guess I've been putting off writing this for too long now - there's no easy way to say it.

Unfortunately, just before Christmas, my Mum, the boy's Granny - who has featured so much in this blog, alongside ASBO dog, died. She had just turned 68.

She had been diagnosed with lung cancer earlier in the year and in August they operated on the effected lung and successfully removed the tumour. Thye had caught it in the very early stages - it hadn't spread, everyone was very happy. It looked like Mum would make a full recovery.

Unfortunately, life had other plans. Mum caught an infection whilst in the hospital and ended up staying there for over a month in Intensive care but she finally came home - relieved and ready to start her recuperation.

Again, that was not to be. She managed to contract pneumonia and ended up in hospital - again. Pneumonia turned into fibrosis and by the end she decided she wanted to die at home.

Hospitals don't make it easy to discharge the dying. We need to ensure there is care at home - but with all the cutbacks the NHS simply can't give that. So we booked a private nursing company to look after her alongside her family and the district nurses. Now the hospital needed to see proof and get written statements from the private company - all before midday as the registrar left then - it was a Thursday after all. But, luckily, my brother had a contact who sorted everything out - without that Mum would probably have died in the hospital - alongside deaf Betty and screaming Susie who were both in the beds beside her. It wasn't much fun.

But we got Mum home and laid her in a single bed in the living room only to find out that the hospital had cancelled the hospital bed we thought had been booked as, in their words, 'Mum was probably not going to last the night." When the district nurse heard this she was horrified - I've never heard such language from such a seemingly nice lady when she called the hospital to see if why we had been told was actually true. But whatever she said worked, as the bed arrived at about 10pm that night and mum could at least sit up to watch tv or listen to the radio.

Mum had a stream of visitors - even when she had pretty much lost consciousness. We didn't realise just how many friends she had. But they came from far and wide to say their farewells. Everyone commenting on how peaceful the house was - the more religious felt that the Holy Spirit was present - I was convinced it was my father, coming to collect his dear wife. Although he had been gone fifteen years - almost to the day that she died - she never loved anyone else. 'How could she?' she would say - she married the man of her dreams and that only happens once in a lifetime.

I had my final chat with her on the Friday. We had listened to Cliff Richard's new song, 'Golden' - she was a huge fan - and she liked it. She smiled when we played it and said he was back on form. Then my brother and sister popped out to the pub.

It wasn't a long chat - but she wanted to plan her funeral. It seems strange now, my sitting there writing down what she said, the hymns she wanted - the fact she wanted her vicar (she was a church goer) to conduct her service and that she didn't want to be buried with Dad. She didn't like the church were he was lain, and nobody visited anyway, she said. She wanted to be cremated and for us to scatter her ashes together, as a family. She didn't mind where as long as we were together. Regular readers will know my brother and I have had a difficult history, but she wanted her death to allow us to draw a line under our past.

She didn't want any pop songs at her funeral - she wanted it to be traditional, solemn. A time to reflect. A time to pray and give thanks for her life and for our own

She died on the Monday - the day before KC's birthday - the hospital were wrong - she used their bed for a good four days.

The next day I raced back home - a four hour drive in order to be there for KC's birthday - I even had a present from Granny for him. We decided not to tell him until afterwards. It was strange watching him open Granny's present, in the card she had told him to share it with his brother, knowing she wouldn't be there for TJ's birthday.

The church were amazing, they helped us with the undertakers, the arrangements... everything and we had Mum's service sorted out just before Christmas. The undertaker called me as I drove up to Cheshire the day before the service. We hadn't chosen a song for when the curtains closed on the coffin and the congregation left. The organist was coming from the church, as we had held the first part of the service there before the committal - but I said, we need some Cliff Richard - but one of his gospel songs - not a pop one. The undertaker said, "How about Miss You Nights - does that work?" 'No," I replied. "We have Golden - his new one if you want that," said the undertaker. So Golden it was. The words are beautiful and really fitting. My aunt told me later that she was fine all the way through but when she heard Cliff, it just reminded her of mum and that was when she cried. For my brother and sister and I, I think it had a completely different meaning, it was the last time we all sat and listend to a piece of music together.

It sounds strange but it was actually a lovely day. Lovely to see so many friends and family and to hear so many stories about her and know how loved she was.

Now life is returning to normal - well, as normal as it can be when you are talking to probate lawyers and estate agents and all the stuff that happens when you become an orphan, as my brother put it.

But grief - grief is hard enough for adults but for children...

Children who have already lost so much...

It's funny but through my own grief I can finally understand a little bit of how they must have felt to have had to leave their birth mum, their foster carers. Adoption agencies talk a lot about the grieving process in looked after children - but it is only now that I can even partially relate...

By the way - ASBO dog is fine - she is living with my sister and terrorising their cat!