I just got a letter from my mother explaining she has been in hospital for five days with bronchial pneumonia. The sickest, ie closest to death, she’s ever been. She’s 78 years old and had a hip and a knee replaced this year, since my father’s death.
People often die on the heels of their spouses. It is hard to be the survivor of a 50-year marriage. Mum is in Brisbane and I am in Berlin and no one told me.
A few years back I rang my Dad on his birthday. I sang happy birthday to him over the phone and we chatted for about twenty minutes, including Dad’s detailed descriptions of exactly what he had eaten for his birthday dinner and how it all tasted, before he said, casually, “By the way. Your brother’s in hospital, we think he is having a heart attack.”
I was in Adelaide and they were all in Brisbane. On the first day of January the next year Dad had a stroke. My family left it so late to let me know that I was unable to get onto a flight until the next day. So many people have these family stories, rendering the unavoidable pains of life avoidably more painful. I have the feeling one of these bright days I might get an email. Mum died last Tuesday, she was cremated at X, it was a lovely ceremony. This morning my heart aches and I am questioning this old ache, I have the feeling by now I ought to be used to it.