We moved in October and the plan was to move S's mum, M, at Christmas. She would come for her usual visit but then stay on to become the third full time resident, with me and my mum. S, of course, is weekending and the three kids come and go. However, she fell on the Monday two weeks before Christmas. Then again on the Tuesday. S went up on the Thursday in the hope of bringing her back that day. However, she was in bed when he arrived. He called in the medics and she was taken to hospital. We thought that they would stabilise her and then we would work out how to get her back to the Old Rectory for Christmas. But she didn't leave hospital, dying from a heart attack on Sunday evening. The funeral was on Friday, 4th January.
It is a terrible loss. We had such hopes that bringing her here would revitalise her. That she would be interested in the house and garden. That she would enjoy the company, me and my mum, along with our constant stream of visitors. And it was taken as read that she would love seeing more of S. Sadly, she never saw the house, although we showed her the hundred or so photographs that we took on our various visits when we were in the process of buying it.
Simon gave a wonderful eulogy at the funeral without notes yet amazingly fluent, reflecting on how she had been born in the Edwardian era and musing on the changes that she had witnessed throughout her life. He talked about how accident prone she was, surviving a road traffic accident relatively unscathed, almost setting fire to herself and falling off a ladder to lose the sight in one of her eyes. He talked about her stubborn independence and how she had managed to live by herself until the end. She was so proud of him and would have been completely overcome at his words.
M had been alone for a long time. She didn't see people that often, other than the occasional visits from her family. Yet there was a real fun side to her. With a drink or two inside me, there is nothing I like better than the Gypsy Kings and a bit of flamenco dancing. I remember her 'pole-dancing' along with me one Christmas, clutching the bannister at the Horseblock, our previous home. Like S, she lacked tact and diplomacy and would say the most outrageous things, the sort of things that you would think but not say. Normally. Funny things but not for repeating here for fear of causing offence.
I liked to make a fuss of her when she came to stay with us, making sure that the room was hotel standard, that she had a hot water bottle, tucking her up at night like a small child and waking her in the morning with a cup of tea. I liked her and I think she liked me.
Although I was daunted at the thought of caring for two elderly ladies, I am devastated that I will not get the chance to try to make her life a little better. The room at the back of the house with a window facing south and a window facing west, usually filled with light and looking out over the trees that are now budding with the hope of spring, this room will always be M's room in my mind.