In quiet moments
It’s all I can think about
Painful heart, wet face
Although this is intensely personal for me, I feel the need to get it out, to write it down and give a voice to my broken thoughts.
My Gran’s been quite ill, and more so recently. Her health has really declined just in these past five months. It’s unbelievable to think that in such a short time she has went from leaving her home at 6:30 a.m. to go out for her daily walk and having lunch at restaurants with my Mum a few times a week, to how she is now. It’s such a shock to the system for me. She’s always been walking. Always. It’s what she does every day. She’d take me on walks to the harbour close to our house and we’d throw bread to the seagulls, wrens and pigeons. It was a highlight growing up.
Then one day in early November last year, my Mum mentioned to me that she hadn’t been out for four weeks because she was weak and falling down a lot because of her pacemaker. She was later hospitalised with a pneumonal chest infection. She wasn’t able to swallow fluids properly and they were diverting into her lungs. As I contemplated my Mum’s statement over the next few days, I realised the ramifications of it. She hadn’t been out for her walk in four weeks! It’s a cold day in Hell before my Gran lets anything stop her for getting outdoors. She’d go out in a blizzard if you’d let her.
She overcame colon cancer in the late 90’s while she was living in Australia. After the death of her husband (Burge[ss]) in 2000, she moved back to Scotland and found a place quite close to my Mum’s home. Last year they found she had cancer in her throat and connecting to her stomach. She went through another series of Chemotherapy and was given the all clear recently. They decided to feed her by a tube through her nose and down her throat. But still her food wasn’t travelling down her esophagus properly. She was still throwing up and couldn’t digest much. They tried to connect the feeding tube plug on the outside but were having difficulties with it. It was then they did another scan.
I phoned my Mum yesterday to thank her for Cameron’s card, but really I wanted to talk to her. She’d told me early December that they were keeping Gran in hospital over Christmas and New Year because of staffing issues in case the tube came out while she was asleep and needed to be re-admitted. Since then I thought about my Gran off and on and have felt something was wrong for the past two weeks.
The tone in Mum’s voice changed when I asked about Gran. She said she didn’t want to spoil my Christmas and Cameron’s first birthday by having me worry about her. She then told me that after they did another scan they found my Gran had cancer in her stomach. She didn’t ask, so she doesn’t know (but I’m sure she does–she saw Burge go through it), but her life expectancy is anywhere from 2-3 months to 2 years.
It has been a huge shock to the system. My Gran is a fighter; as tough as they get. She has been the one grandparent that I have gotten the closest to, and the last one I have. I can’t tell you how far away I suddenly feel; how feelings of helplessness and solitude have rushed over me. I just feel consumed by it all. I cry and I don’t even realise I’m doing it. It comes and goes, but especially when it’s quiet. I sat and watched Cameron in his bath last night, but my mind was elsewhere.
Mum gave me the number to the ward she is in. I was surprisingly nervous as I dialled the numbers. It took a while, but I managed to get through and talked with her three hours ago. There was so much I wanted to say, so much I wanted to tell her and wasn’t able to. I knew she was tired and it was a little difficult for her to speak too. So I’m planning on writing her a letter and sending it through to my family to print off and read to her. It’s faster than posting it and waiting a week for them to receive it.
I want to go see her but I don’t know if I could make the trip alone. I’ve done it seven times total (five alone), but this is different. I want her to see my boys, to meet them. I want my Mum to see Cameron too. I really need Bryan by my side but I doubt if any of that is feasible. It’s just too expensive.
Time feels like it did again when I was a kid–it’s ticking by slowly. But it affords me the ability to make some decisions that I know I need to think about.