Sunday, September 14, 2008


When I was looking after my mother I didn’t have time to wonder when she would die; a client who calls me for tarot advice often asks me when her mother is going to die. The first few times she asked this I got a perverse pleasure from saying, ‘…not any time soon.’ There is also a man who puts this question to me about his wife; he’s been waiting for her death a long time. This all sounds bad but I really do understand where they’re coming from and just how difficult it can get – and how madly insane you can end up; the day I got my mother into a wheelchair taxi and onto the ward I had my clothes on inside-out and back-to-front, and my hair hadn’t been brushed for days.

I think that one of the hardest things to manage is that decision of just how much you can or should stand in any situation, especially when mental illness is a factor whether we’re talking about plain old senility or something more serious and dangerous – and senility can be full of missiles and snapping teeth! I know, I’ve been there, but it’s the insanity and total confusion of the whole scenario that drives you onward, until there’s no difference between you and the person you’re looking after – I know that I was off my trolly and when a social worker answered my plea for help I fell into her arms in the kitchen. I had a crazy mother on one hand and three teenagers on the other; there was no escape and up until then, no help that really helped.

It makes me sad now, thinking about that time and I thank the gods that it didn’t last long; she went out like a whirling dervish, my mother, and it’s taken years to relegate the memories into something softer. It’s easier to see the real woman she’d been; the mother and wonderful grandmother is now slipping out of the cracks to catch me in tears.


BetteJo said...

SO sad. It would be much more comforting if all of our parents could go out as the people we knew them to be. And taking care of them when they have 'turned' - has to earn you a special reward in heaven someday.

ireneintheworld said...

i've already told my children that they've to put me into a home when i get that bad and they only have to visit me as long as i recognise them. and i mean it, because the real me won't be there. it's a difficult thing to be hovering above you, isn't it? x

The Mock Duckling said...

That a powerful post, Irene. Where you say you both fall into a kind of madness together really pulled at me, though in an awful kind of way.

Sorry you had to go through this. Some endings and illness are not kind at all. For anyone.


ireneintheworld said...

is that you rosyb? i still get mixed up with you and char; i've just been prowling both blogs to work it out and i'm none the wiser!

i think writers and artists need madness in the cupboard - what else would drive us into all those characterisations and artistic mayhem? x