Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Three score years and ten

In the couple of weeks since I wrote about how I'd learned of my sister's stroke, I wondered how she was progressing, rather optimistically hoping that no news was good news.  I did become increasingly conscious of an urge to go and visit her - not the easiest of journeys to do from where we live by public transport, although by no means out of the question.  Spurred on by an almost supernatural feeling of my late mother telling me to get off my backside and get over there (and it was Hallowe'en yesterday, after all!) - and a more rational tip-off from a friend of a friend who'd seen her recently, I made the trip over to Warwick hospital yesterday afternoon.

Thinking back, it must be almost two years since I'd last seen my sister in person.  The extent to which she'd aged made it seem more like twenty.  The stroke has evidently done an awful lot of damage.  That, coupled with her deteriorating health generally, and the frail figure looking up at me from the hospital bed I'd have guessed, had I not known, might have been in her nineties.  She recognized me and knew who I was: some of the time, as I told her about some of the things that had happened, she responded briefly but almost normally - but there were quite long periods when she seemed to retreat into a world of her own, occasionally saying something which probably made sense to her but didn't seem to relate to anything - almost as if her brain was missing a cog or two and kept slipping out of gear.

She's being really well looked after: the staff all seemed very kind and sympathetic, and she's been getting visitors.  But I learned from my nephew who as luck would have it happened to pop by and have a talk with her consultant, that short of a miracle there isn't going to be anything much they can do for her - she's on borrowed time.

I still have the mixed emotions I wrote about a fortnight ago, perhaps felt even more acutely now.  I'm glad I went, especially as it may turn out to have been the last time I shall have seen her. Exactly at what point nature will take its course I've no way of telling: seventy isn't a particularly advanced age by modern life expectancy standards, of course.  But it seems likely she may just pass away peacefully in her sleep which I guess isn't a bad way to go.      

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