The end of mum's life was spent in hospital. She had trouble with her leg for a couple of years and it got so bad that the doctor decided she needed a new kneecap. She had an ulcer on her leg from the time I became pregnant with Jennifer, in fact she always used to say the stress of me being so young brought it on, and when the time for her operation arrived the ulcer had flared up again. This meant the surgey date had to be delayed until April and then she never left hospital. We thought the surgery had gone well but something stuck to the scar and caused her a great deal of pain, so they operated again to remove it. Then it got infected and they took her to a recovery hospital where she had a problem with her heart. 10pm on a Sunday night a nurse phoned me and told me that mum was seriously ill and had nearly died, could I come down. Needless to say next day I was on a train, and just in time to see mum recovered after having a pacemaker fitted. That was in July. In August we went down to PLymouth to see the eclipse and visited mum in hsopital. She was very depressed and when we left the ward I said to Mike that that would be the last time I saw mum alive. However we changed our plans and went back the next day when she seemed a lot happier. She was still in a lot of pain and she could hardly eat or drink anything, but mum seemed to be more settled. We went home and just a few days later Laura phoned me to tell me mum was really poorly and not expected to last. Apparently she had asked to see me one last time so off I went again. Typical British Rail cock-ups meant that my train was cancelled and the next one was delayed by an hour so in the end I didn't make it before she went into a coma and died at 7.20pm that evening. I had said my goodbyes the previous week but we both pretended that everything was alright. Nothing about love had been said, but there again it never was. Mum rarely showed her emotions, I never saw her cry, and I don't think she ever told me that she loved me. I know she did but it has made me inhibited about showing my feelings too. I had no cuddles after the age of about 8 years old and a peck on the cheek only if I initiated it. The strange thing is that because I showed no feelings she used to call me hard and cold. She didn't know how much, deep down, I was longing for a hug or to be able to put my arms around her, the way my girls did, and take away the pain. Even my daughters don't know that, it was always their daddy they ran to for a hug or a kiss goodbye. They still do in fact.
Jennifer spent the last few days in hospital with mum, looking after her every need. Sh even slept there for a couple of nights. When mum was in the coma she wouldn't even leave the room to give me a few minutes alone with mum, and after she had died the same story. I will never forget that I had no time alone with mum to say my goodbyes. It wouldn't have mattered that she couldn't hear me, I could have at least had a private moment to remember. Thanks to Jennifer I have none of that. I really don't understand what I have done to make Jennifer dislike me so much, after all this was my mother and her grandmother. I felt like the stray, unwanted sheep of the family that had to be humoured. In fact we had a major falling out over this but she won't see things from my point of view, she won't even try. Of course I feel guilty about not seeing mum as much as I should have but when we live 300 miles away, with no car and a low income, what can you do. I kept in touch regularly and we often talked on the phone for an hour at a time. My daughters saw a different woman to the one that raised me. Times were different, they were her grandchildren, meant to be spoiled and hugged. I'm much the same with Joseph because he is to young to shy away and I feel less inhibited these days. She didn't beat them with a bamboo cane for no reason, send them to their room with no supper or just plain ignore them. I try to tell my girls that this is what happened to me when I was growing up but I don't think they believe me, because they saw only grandma. The good, kind person who read them stories and sang lullabies to them. The person who nursed them when I was too ill myself to manage. I didn't want to disillusion them. We all deserve the best grandparents and they had no others. I'm not trying to be altruistic here, just honest.