I was up early after a another restless night of tossing and turning. My phone had found a permanent place on my bedside table, waiting for that call that we all dread in the middle of the night. It was yet to ring. That meant that mum was stable and things were still going ok.
A few weeks prior to this day I had volunteered to be a helper at school for my youngest. They were having a “sleepover” at school as a practice run for the proper camp that would come the following year.
The thought of spending the night at school as a helper filled me with dread, so I put my hand up for breakfast duty instead.
I arrived at school at about 7am, and the kids were already up, as you would expect and running around with bounds of energy. The teachers and parents that stayed overnight looked worn and tired and ready to go back to bed again.
A couple of other parents joined me in the big kitchen and we got the breakfast ready and got all the kids fed and watered and the clean up was done.
I can remember talking to a few other mums that were there that morning about mum. They were asking how she was and how I was. I remember sharing with them that she was in the nursing home and was on the decline. That I was visiting every day and were heading there after breakfast at school. I remember I cried and got hugged, pulled myself together and soldiered on.
At this stage I’d still not heard from the nursing home. I assumed that her condition was stable, and unchanged from the previous day.
Because of this, I chose to stay at school a little longer and help the kids try and shove sleeping bags in their bags; make sure clothes found the right bags and found owners of stray jocks and socks.
I then chose to stay a bit longer while the kids played some games. From memory it was dodge ball and something with pool noodles; involving teachers and parents.
When everything was packed up and games completed I helped the kids take their bags back to the classroom; chatting with some parents on the way.
I can recall that it was nice to have some normality and have a few hours not thinking about what the day would bring.
I would later regret the extra time I spent at school on this morning.
I had become familiar and friendly with the ladies in the the little cafe around the corner from the nursing home. Every morning I would call through there and grab a coffee before I visited mum.
On this morning, the seventh or eight in a row that I was at the cafe; I decided to sit and read the paper and have a piece of cake with my coffee. I still had no word from the nursing home.
I regret staying an reading the paper that morning in the cafe.
As I walked through the front doors of the nursing home, I said hello to the receptionist, whom I’d gotten to know quite well in the week that mum had been there. Mum’s treating practitioner was also there, so I stopped and had a chat to her.
She told me mum was stable, she was sleeping and snoring. I remember thinking that typical of mum, she was a bit of a snorer.
I wandered through the corridors sneaking a peak into rooms that were occupied by the elderly and those with dementia and disabilities. I remember thinking I was glad that mum was removed from all this and that she wouldn’t be in this place for a long time. I went through the common room were a husband and wife sat each morning reading the paper, and down another corridor to mum’s room.
Mum’s room was towards the back of the Home. We were lucky to be able to get her a nice room in the new wing. It was fresh and modern and had a lovely window looking out to some trees and you could see the sky, the clouds, the sunshine.
As I walked into mums room, I certainly wasn’t prepared for what I saw, or what I heard.
This wasn’t a normal snore from someone that was sleeping. This was a ragged breathing noise from someone that had hours to live.
My head and heart went into overdrive. This was it.
This was the day I had been dreading for the last 4 years.
To be continued.