Mamma playing with the twilight zone.


Mamma had us all crying, and restless and making plans.  She was moving towards the past again, letting go of the future and we were suspended in the moment.

It’s that time – when Silver also means the mercury that held the family together, the matriarch, the soothsayer is going to leave me. My mother is eighty-nine (someone once said both a blessing and a curse).  Living on another continent means having to say ‘Ah thanks so much for popping in’ and ‘please could you …’ which I hate, but have no choice.  Mamma complains the food is shit, (would never use that word for mamma thinks anything to do with any bodily function is not for mentioning) the people are awful and the world has come to crap (too many people) which in her opinion makes anything circa 19 before I was born, totally rosy.  But my mamma is also the lady with the always tinted hair, make up everyday – to look good sitting all alone in her room – choses her outfit and generally prefers to be grand.

A few years ago, it was a call to ICU.  My sister and I half fled and half crept to the ward to see our now Edith Piaf (for she looks like Edith) foetal positioned in a ocean of a hospital bed.  This was it we nodded to each other collectively.  Then Edith got two pints of blood and we had to find alternative accommodation.  No longer able to stay in her home of fifty-four years, the foundling found a home in a nest for oldies.

Five years to the last two weeks and Mamma breaks her hip and has an operation.  She’s reaching for the bright light.  Confused and angry and frail. Am I going to get to her in time, do we find a bed for her closer to my sister to fade with the vision of her face whilst I seek a jet plane to say goodbye?  The angst and a million phone calls puts time in suspension, days and nights of hoping and dare I say it, but also thinking it would be alright to pay the Ferryman and shed the world for this Dutch girl – to be in her happy place of youth, of parents and loved ones she misses too much to bear in the present. Is that wrong?  Do we become selfless or selfish when it comes to our ageing parents? Do we cling or do we concede?

Years now of talking only of the past.  I don’t mind her being her past but not ready for her to be mine.

This afternoon a friend sent me a picture of Edith in her hospital bed.  Two litres of blood and the dying patient is sitting up, eating chocolate cake and ready to go back to her little nest, (the place she moans about remember?)  Two things, actually three things dawned on me.

  • The woman must be a vampire.  Give her blood and the recovery is remarkable.
  • Our ideas for her last streak in this world is irrelevant.  She is clever, lucid and should be able to make her own decisions.
  • It may be a respite and the darkness is not far, or could be a decade – with this formidable woman one does not know, but I am content with her game in and out of the twilight zone.

If the 90th birthday is to be – many candles there shall be, but if she hates the idea of the number, another tedious day of nothingness and memories, I will lose my comfort blanket.  The irony is, I don’t want Mamma reduced, or scared, or aching for loves and life gone so much it hurts anymore.

Is that wrong?

Is that so wrong?

Then why am I so scared to be alone without her?