Friday, October 14, 2011

79 today and uncontrollable giggling when you shouldn't

Today is my mums 79th birthday. I wish I was in Stanley so I could take her out for a meal and buy her a birthday present. My mum is a truelly remarkable person. She is as fit as a fiddle despite being told 5 years ago that she had 18 months left to live. Well my mum thoroughly enjoys an argument and proving others wrong. No one was going to tell her she had 18 months to live and not be proved wrong. I know my mum will not mind me telling you all because she is quite proud of the fact that they have been proved wrong. Mums initial health problems started approximately 20 years ago when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The prognosis was good and she had a lumpectomy and radiotherapy. Five years ago she was diagnosed with a rare form of leaukemia called hairy leaukemia, a very slow developing form of cancer which she had probably been developing for the previous 10 years. Ironically it was suggested that this had probably been caused by the treatment that cured her breast cancer. At the time her blood counts were very low and her resistance to illness and the ability of her blood to clot were away below normal. In a remarkable act of what I can only describe as defiance over the last two years her blood counts have improved, some have actually came back to within normal range. Some are still low but no part has deterioated further with all tests showing a degree of improvement to the point where her monthly checks have now been extended back to three monthly checks. She is one in a million.
On a sadder note it is two years yesterday since my father was buried. He was 81 years old. My dad had never spent a day in hospital until his final illness which he was very unfortunate to die from. He was like my mum, as fit as a fiddle and they had both just returned from the UK. Summer had arrived and dad had started to plant his still very large potato garden. During the night he woke with a pain in his chest. In the morning mum was not happy with him and got my sister to take him to the hospital. To cut the story short it showed that he had had a heart attack. The hospital believed it had been caused by a faulty valve that was letting blood drain back. The decision was taken that because he was still incredibly fit and had stablized well he would be sent to Santiago in Chile. An air cardel flight was brought in for him and my brother John was allowed to go on the flight with him. My mum was not allowed to go because obviously she can not get insurance because of her condition. They had a good flight and dad arrived in Santiago in a good and stable condition. His diagnoses was confirmed, he was rested for a few days and then tests were started to determine if his heart and arteries were in good enough condition to have a valve replacement. We were warned that one of the tests carried the risk of disloging something which may cause a stroke. My dad was just so unlucky because this is what happened. The day after the test and with the all clear for the valve replacement he had a stroke. Again he was fortunate and apart from some confusion he didnt lose any use of his limbs but this meant that he was no longer well enough to have his valve replacement. The path of treatment became a bit blurred but we knew it would now be several weeks before his operation could go ahead. Unfortunately his heart couldnt take the strain of the wait and on the 5th October 2009 he had another heart attack and passed away. A week later my brother flew home with my father body.
There was then a delay with his funeral because dad had arrived without all his relevant paperwork which meant he could not be buried. We were told that because dad was in a sealed coffin it would have a window so we could see him if we wanted to. I had visions of this window, would it just be a little window that I could only see his face through. Like a peek a boo window. I couldnt get to grips with it. Mum, my sister Stephanie and I decided we would go and see dad. We arrived outside the hospital and I decided no I couldnt go so only mum and Stephanie went. They came back and Stephanie explained that in fact the whole top half of the coffin lifted and I shouldnt worry because dad looked very peaceful and asleep. One more trip around the square and I decided I did want to go. I had never seem a deceased person before but I have seen lots of dead animals and although I have never said to my sister my dad did look peaceful but he didnt look asleep, he looked as stark as it might seem, dead!! Anyway this was not meant to be a morbid blog but today I have been thinking about my dad and his funeral. I remember telling my sister Stephanie years ago that I dreaded the day our parents should die because I was sure I would be like the Africans when they mourn their dead and that I would be uncontrolable and howl loudly. Bearing this in mind the dreadful day of the funeral arrived. I was doing well, thinking don't think about it, sing the hymn, keep your mind occuppied with other things. So I sang and then I realised, I'm singing different words, I listened more carefully and then realised half the church was singing different words. I got this uncontrollable desire to laugh. I thought of my dad and he would laugh until the tears ran down his face. I laughed and I laughed and my shoulders shock with uncontrollable laughter but I didnt make a sound. I was totally engrossed in my own private world of laughter until I got a sharp nudge in the ribs from Christopher. Dad would have found it soooo funny. No one else laughed.

Perhaps we were having our own private joke. I look back and think the people behind must have thought I was unconsolable with my shoulders shaking in grief, all because the parson had printed the same verse twice. Those who knew the song missed it out and those like me who didnt sang it.

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