Life and its strange ironies

I was reading an interview with the author Terry Pratchett over lunch. Towards the end, he started talking about death – an event much on his mind, as he has early Alzheimer’s. “It’s not morbid to talk about death,” he says. “Most people don’t worry about death, they worry about a bad death.”

My Mum felt the same way, I think. She was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last year. Her attitude to it was wonderfully stoical. The chemotherapy will either cure me or it won’t, she said. I don’t think she was putting on a brave face for my benefit. She trusted her doctors to do their best; she’d have the treatment and see what happened.

Mum beat her cancer, and was given the all-clear in January. She was busy regaining her fitness and making plans about what to do next. And then last Monday night she suffered a massive brain haemorrhage. On Wednesday afternoon she died.

From the moment a blood vessel deep in her brain burst, she never regained consciousness. But I’m glad that I had the chance to sit at her bedside and chat away telling stories with my Dad, brother and sister, as though Mum were wide awake, on the mend and waiting for her turn to pick up the story – or, more likely, to tell us we’d all got it arse about face before starting again with her own version.

Mum loved to tell a good story, and would have appreciated the narrative value of the many strange coincidences – or cruel ironies – that surrounded the nature and timing of her passing. And believe me, there were many of them. But as I’m sure she’d have pointed out, that is the way of the world. And whether she heard my words or not, I’m glad I had the chance to thank her for bringing me into it.

Mum and Dad in the stable he built. When she asked my why I was taking a photo of them both looking so scruffy, I told her I wanted to capture their natural habitat

4 replies on “Life and its strange ironies”

  1. Dear Neil
    How terribly sad but I’m pleased you got the chance to say goodbye. I’m aware of one irony with the word you got at 26 Words on Wednesday evening. I feared as much when the name was pointed at in the dictionary and said so to Andy Hayes. I suspect your mum would have smiled.

    Love to you and your family.

  2. Neil, you are so brave to write this.

    Your mother is very proud of you and who you are and all your talent. The bond you have with her will be with you always.

    Megan xxx

  3. Oh, Neil,
    I’m so sorry to hear this. This is too soon isn’t it. It’s always too soon. These passings land on us and we’re left to try and make some sense of things where there isn’t much sense to be found.

    My heart is with you and your family.
    Your friend,

  4. Lovely post, Neil.

    I especially like your photograph of your Mum and Dad in the stable, as well as your caption.

    With warm regards,

    Sean (fellow fan of the Blogger Simple template — when not on WordPress)

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