My aunt's carer bless her. She is far from young and spritely herself, and at 65 her health is far from great. But as a long time friend of my aunt, and subsequently her carer for the past 2 and a half years, she is committed to keeping her promise to Joan, and refuses to leave her side.
A few months ago, during a tearful conversation, Joan asked Chris if she would stay with her when the time came, so she would not be alone. She didn't want family there, or to see her once she has passed, but wanted someone close to be there. Chris of course agreed.
This was of course before the need arose for her to go into a home, and from this point Chris has struggled a little and feels she has broken her promise to Joan to keep her at home to let the last days be spent there. Obviously, practicality takes priority, and the best care and pain relief Joan can have is right there at Highcroft. So it is only fitting that this is where her last days are spent. Im sure if she was able to talk, she would be like mum was at this point, and agree that she is happy and comfortable right there.
Having spoken to the nursing home and Chris's husband this afternoon, I have been informed that she is still with us, but the pain levels are increasing now, and so with it, the morphine increases too. The more that goes in, the less aware Joan will be of things around her, let alone aware of the pain. Which is probably a good thing now. Its never nice thinking about these things, but having been on some hardcore pain meds I know first hand that you get to the point of really not caring about anything else.
Of course, as the dose increases, so do the chances of complications, usually with breathing. On morphine a few years back I remember being put on oxygen because my SATs were falling, so for someone with other things going on, its a complication that is know to gently bring things to an end.
The next step of course is to plan ahead, and get my mind in the right place for what comes next. I have had detailed conversations with Chris and her husband about these arrangements, and we think we have all angles covered. Plans for travelling, staying, and dealing with legalities etc are all taken care of for when the time comes. No drama, no surprises, just smooth as silk, just as Joan would have done herself. Very organised you see.
In my mind I know how it all goes from this point one, just a few loose ends to tie up. For example, a eulogy. It was suggested the other evening over dinner that maybe I would like to do the eulogy. My thoughts on this are mixed, I have plenty to say, and could easily do her proud, but at the same time my time spent with Joan is dwarfed by some other peoples. I have memories stretching right back to childhood, and am indeed the eldest male of this bloodline of the family, so its only right. But I am happy to give way to anyone who has spent more adult times with Joan, and has more memories.
After the service, and all formalities are out of the way, the next thing to plan is the scattering of the ashes. Forgive my bluntness about these matters, but I just say what I see.
This matter is a little more complex. A few months before mum left us, her and Joan spoke about their wishes for their ashes. With Joan saying she wanted to be scattered at sea, she made arrangements with a local yacht charter company this one to make a reservation for 12 people to join her on her final voyage out to sea, somewhere she loved to be. Obviously the dates were not set, but on mum hearing this, she decided she would like to join her on this voyage, and so it was agreed.
Now the time gets closer, there are certain matters that need to be considered, such as who will be able to make the date (once it is set) and who will actually be able to make the voyage. A multitude of complications such as age and sea legs will have baring on the guests aboard the yacht in the end. Something that needs considering when the time arrives.
I have to confess this is one occasion that will feel awkward for me, with many family and friends who I have not seen for decades, as well as other more distant family members from her husbands side whom I have yet to meet. Hopefully all will run smoothly, with no issues arising. But we all know how the passing of a loved one can bring out the worst in people, for both emotional and greed reasons.
Anyway, thats something to be tackled when the time arrives.
For now I shall finish up by saying thank you to Chris and her husband for all the amazing work they have done for my lovely aunt Joan over all this time. And hope that Chris is getting some rest, and also thank you for taking care of me during my recent visit. I hope in some way I can one day return the favour, and show my true appreciation. Saying I look forward to seeing them again probably sounds a little wrong, as we all know what the next time I see them will be. But somehow I feel like my attachment to Wales has been renewed, and I have something to continue going back for. The legacy of my family in Wales lives on yet :)