My mother was my hero and best friend. She was always there for me, I don’t remember a time that we did not get along. She was a very hard working woman, raising me and my twin brothers while looking after some elderly members of our family at the same time. When she became ill she was so very strong and did not ever complain about her own quality of life.
When she was very ill, and in the hospital, the doctors tested her for many things but failed to follow up on one particular test that resulted in her having a severe case of pernicious anemia. She also had an operation that left her with a rejected mesh in her abdomen that never healed and continually drained her energy.
When she first became bedridden, help was arranged for my father to be able to go out once a week and get all his chores done. The only help that was provided for my mom was to give her a quick bed bath. We found this to be insufficient, but could not get any more help than that. It was deemed that my dad, who was in his eighties at the time, could look after her, so even the little help he did receive stopped. My father was unable to take proper care of her, and, luckily, I lived close by and was able to help for the three years that she was bedridden. The doctor would come once a month to check on her breathing.
I would go over to their place every day after my kids were back at school and feed my mum and do some leg and arm exercises with her. I also made double dinner at our house, so I could bring some food for my dad to heat up the next day for their dinner. I did this out of pure love for my parents, and I was grateful to be able to live so close so my mom could stay at home and be comfortable.
When I reflect on what happened, there was so much more that the health care system could have done or offered for my mother and father. I don’t know how they would have managed without being so close to us. In the end, my mum was in the hospital overnight and died peacefully the next morning. I think she just decided she’d had enough and could no longer carry on in this state. I also think that she was worried about the toll this was taking on my dad, who joyfully looked after her with love and compassion.
I pray that elderly people, especially the ones on their own, can now get the help that my parents could not receive. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and love in their last years or days and as a society we owe that to them.