On Wednesday I received a text message from my sister, "Ring Dad now", while I was at work.
I've had a number of "Have you rung/spoken to Dad" text messages recently but this one was a first.
Immediately finding an empty office I dialed my parents number. Dad answered and I asked what was up.
"Your Mum is worse, the nurses have said that she's not got more than two weeks to go but it could be days. They've said if anyone wants to see her then they should do it sooner rather than later."
Coming off the phone I spoke with my immediate line managers and told them I wouldn't be in on Thursday and let my wife and son know that at least I would be going to Wales to see Mum, in the end the three of us were able to go.
Speaking with my sister she told me she'd be down on Friday.
The trip up on Thursday was uneventful, the weather was nice for a change and by lunchtime we were pulling up in front of my parents house.
Dad greeted us and told us that he'd seen Mum (well he would since he lives there and is looking after her), but that it was up to us if we wanted to. Turning to my son he said "You're not seeing her".
Mum was lying face down in bed, her breath was laboured but she did look like she was just sleeping normally. After getting some more details about her condition from Dad we went back downstairs.
Dad nipped out just after that in order to take all of the drugs Mum had been having orally to the chemist as she no longer needed them. While he was out we told my son that it he wanted to see Nanny then he could, we'd just not tell Grampy.
A couple of minutes after Dad has gone out the community nurses arrived to do their thing, minutes later one of Mum's cousins also arrived. While the nurses were busy with Mum I chatted with her cousin. At one point I had to point out who I was as she had a bit of a puzzled look to her. When Dad returned we called in Mum's cousin's grandson who was waiting in the car for her.
While Dad talked to her I ended up having a conversation about computer games and games consoles, including a discussion about Commodore 64 and BBC Micros and the joys of playing games that needed to be loaded from cassette tape. The noise of a computer game being loaded from cassette is one that you never forget.
At one point Mum's cousin turned to me and said "You look just like you Mum." I'm still not sure which of us I feel sorry for. Probably Mum for looking like me :-)
Eventually she was able to pop up and see Mum, when she returned it was with the comment "that's not your Mum" and she was right. Mum wasn't there, only a shell really remained. The personality, the life force, that was Mum was gone. There would be no more conversations with her. No more sharing things, no more advice from her, no more silly little comments about my transition that only a parent that doesn't fully understand but is trying so hard to be there for you will make.
We made sure that Dad had a proper meal before heading back, as much as I would have liked to have stayed up overnight I knew that I'd have to make arrangements with work and tie up a few loose ends before taking some time off.
Friday morning and I was awake at 6am. As I was about to get out of bed I said to my wife "At least we got through the night", no phone calls in the early hours thank goodness. Then the phone rang.
As soon as I picked up the handset I knew what I'd hear. The display showed the call was from my parents. Dad told me that Mum had gone, she'd stopped breathing at about 5am. Mum was finally at peace.
I spoke with Dad for a few minutes before putting the phone down, only to have it ring again as my sister rang to check if I'd heard from Dad.
It was hard talking to her, knowing that she had been heading down to see Mum before she passed away but that she'd not be able to do that now was too much and I cried. I know she wanted to see her but I'm actually glad that she didn't. Last weekend when we were all there Mum was in a better state than she was on Thursday. With various doctors and nurses going in by the time my sister would get there Mum should be looking peaceful.
I popped into work and spoke with HR and one of my bosses and told them what had happened, they were surprised that I'd actually come in but I needed the distraction for a while. I actually had some interesting conversations with people yesterday morning about some things, but that's for another time.
Mum was still at the house when my sister got there. She told me that she looked peaceful but that her tongue was just peeking out of her mouth. Even in death Mum is still poking fun at the world around her and poking her tongue out at us all. She wanted her funeral to be a celebration and not something sad and she made sure that she was going to remind us of that even at the end.
Sleep tight Mum, sweet dreams, I know your with your Mam and Dad now. Just don't give your brother too much of a hard time will you because I know that you've got a few strong words to have with him after all this time.
Love you xx