When I was told by her doctor that my mother would ‘die at any minute’, my heart sank so low I thought I would precede her; but I knew I had to do all I could to ensure that every day she lived would be full of the best possible joys. The buck stopped with me and I had to survive to help her to do the same. There was no one else to care for either of us.
I went home to my bedroom, stuffed my face into my pillow and bawled. A lifetime of gratitude for having been born to the kindest soul had turned instantly into deep grief at the thought that any minute she would leave me. I knew that her departure would herald a period of isolation, for I had cared for her for most of my existence; I had already cut down on my social life, as her needs as she grew older escalated. Thinking she would die at any moment caused a self indulgent cry of wracking sobs to open my dialogue with God and a benevolent Universe. Many unrequested and unexpected out of body experiences had already convinced me that I could tap into supernatural resources, purely through thought; yet, at that time of painful shock, I did not know that intention and behaviour would also form a vital part of that triangle of magical outcomes.
Explaining my red eyes as hay fever, I sat down with my mother just minutes after that devastating prognosis and asked her what she wanted to do with her life. I handed her a foolscap pad, so she could make a list. Thankfully, because we lived deeply altruistically in our family, she was not suspicious. I did not dare tell her, or anyone, of the doctor’s words, because I knew that negative thoughts might puncture the cocoon of hope I wanted to use to lift her happiness to its maximum in her final days. Most people cannot help but feel negativity, as they are influenced by daily pummelling of it from newspapers, television and magazines until it occupies every neural cavity and governs every judgement and thought. Sick, old people die, right? Well, no. I would kick the status quo aside and talk to my Best Friend Above.
As my mother looked out of her bedroom window wistfully and wrote down wish after wish as if it had been a school project, I noticed how childlike and trusting she had become over the years. She was placing all of her recovery in my hands without even knowing and had become the innocent again, as I morphed seamlessly into the role of parent of my own mum. It gave an added layer of loving, when I was already so full of devoted admiration for her infinite capacity to fill lives and rooms with light, that I had thought my love cup was already overflowing. As thoughts of her impending death came into my head, I just replaced them with positive images of her animated self, doing the things she enjoyed – socialising, shopping and bringing joy to other people. That became a habit in the days which followed.
Eventually, after about an hour, my mother handed me her foolscap pad, with all her neat, copperplate script of ambitions. At the top, she had written ‘to see my beloved son’; but her ‘beloved son’, my brother, was living four thousand miles away and it was not safe for her to travel, for her heart was critically damaged and was about to stop.
I got to work immediately and took capital out of my beautiful home to send tickets for my brother, his partner and their two small children to spend as long as they could with us in the UK. Within a matter of minutes, I was able to report that my brother was on his way. My mother clasped her hands in glee. As her eyes sparkled and she clapped enthusiastically, something happened. She appeared rejuvenated. Her coronary issues, which she never allowed to bother her, seemed to diminish, as she and I started to plan for the family reunion. Animated and infectiously enthusiastic, my mother picked up the private phone I had installed for her to be able to call the world as she telephoned anyone she knew who still had hearing to tell them the good news. She was only seventy one years old. I was so overjoyed to see her animated motivation that it did not matter where those recipients were or how long she spoke to them. I encouraged her to make the most of every minute, because I never knew if it would be her last. Conversely, she behaved as if she would live forever, making plans for way in the future which instinct told me also to follow.
As we filled our time with planning, shopping, reorganising bedrooms to accommodate two small children and working on a plan of social entertainment for my brother and his family, my mother became so inspired that she would awaken every morning with the first pink rays of sun and be just as bright with her inspirational ideas for the visit. At least ten times every night, I would crawl out of bed to peep into her room to check that she was still breathing. No words can ever explain how my heart stopped as I quietly tiptoed into her room or the relief whenever I saw the blankets covering her chest move up and down. Each disturbance of sleep was a blessing, for it meant I still had my mum. In those early days, I lived on the edge and only my spiritual faith stopped me from cracking. I knew I could never confide my anguish or solo battle to keep my mother alive to a single friend or family member.
Somehow, I knew that my brother’s trip, while wonderful, would not be enough, as he would have to leave to return to his home and that time would be harrowingly sad for my mother, unless I had something in place before it occurred. After would be too late, as that would present a dip in spirits until the new event was planned or executed. I needed a bridge before one joy happened to the one which would follow. I checked my mother’s wishlist. It included a visit to her old convent, where she had boarded in Dominica for many years as a child with her sisters, a trip to see my father in Barbados, from whom she had been long separated, and a variety of social events both local and abroad, involving people she knew and loved. I had asked her with absolute sincerity not to hold back – and was delighted that she had not. It was going to wipe out all my savings – and I felt deliriously happy because it meant I still had my mother.
My mother also wanted more stationary – and it had to be purple. She hoped to have her hairstyle changed, to buy new shoes and skirts and to invite more relatives to stay with us. She wanted a big birthday party every year and more frequent lunch, tea and dinner parties at our home. She wanted to see her friends more often. Her friends were usually a lot younger and those around her age were invariably tap dancing, wearing stiletto heels and laughing mischievously with irreverence when they discussed world affairs with as much vehemence as a campaigning politician.
Within twenty four hours, I had arranged to fulfil all of those dreams, pulling more capital out of my home and cramming in all the activities within the shortest time span possible, because no one could tell me medically how many hours she had left. The second, independent, medical opinion I had sought was harsher than the first. ‘You could wake up one morning and find her dead in bed any day now’ was not the response I had hoped to receive. It buckled me briefly, but I had to counteract it the only way I knew – by revving up my love and my dedication to my mother’s daily happiness and seeing her in my mind as recovered.
Soon the days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. I laboured away, feeling blessed at the bonus my beloved mother repaid by living longer. She was in and out of hospital, where I slept on a chair next to her bed, and where the Wishlist would be upgraded to make recovery and returning home more attractive for her. My brave mother kept confounding consultants in the cardiological and oncological fields with her ability to bounce back against all medical odds. She was starting to set a pattern.
It became easier to care for her as my faith in a new, unseen energy increased. Nothing was ever too much trouble for me to make my mother happy, comfortable and inspired and on the nights she disturbed my sleep twenty times because she needed help, I never once felt anything other than a surge of gratitude, for each ring of the bell beside her bed to summon me meant that my adorable mum was still with me. I felt rewarded, not penalised, by every opportunity to help her, however demanding others perceived those requests to be. Their responses puzzled me. I realised with dismay that few people know or understand the power of real love. Nothing mattered other than my mother’s survival and that became so pressing that when my romantic relationship with my overseas boyfriend was threatened, I had to let him go. The momentum of recovery for my mother could not be halted, although I empathised with my partner and hoped he would understand; I am not sure that he did, but my persona was in such a high place that there was no rancour on my part and I understood his response perfectly. Thankfully, in time, we resumed a platonic and solidly loving, fraternal friendship.
When my mother’s months of recovery started turning into years, I began to realise that something unusual was happening. I discovered that we had been blessed with miracle after miracle, from products, to services to the inexplicable appearance of solutions before the problems had appeared. Something, or someone, unseen, seemed to be guiding me towards avenues which brought an ever-increasing source of confidence, joy, inspiration and answers..
On the occasions I had to flex my muscles to plead for a different doctor, medicine or service, I sometimes hit a brick wall. I had no choice but to go through it and was threatened once by a senior hospital consultant with eviction from his hospital. After he berated me for asking whether my mother’s medication could be reduced – she was on ELEVEN different, medically prescribed, chemical drugs at the time and deteriorating fast – I made him sit down and listen to me.
Thankfully, I had done my research and knew that polypharmacy, the over-prescription of drugs, was one of the biggest killers of the elderly; I also knew that my mother was not used to chemical toxicity as she had followed a naturopathic path most of her life. I also knew that she was extraordinarily sensitive to many foods and every day substances. I took time to insist that the hospital stopped applying a blanket approach and saw her as an individual. To my amazement, after I finished my soliloquy, the consultant stepped from behind his desk and embraced me. My mother’s medication was reviewed, reduced by half and she thrived again; but just to be on the safe side, I swopped consultants to one who understood my mother’s uniqueness and our family love more.
I had not yet realised that what was happening was that my selflessness was turning up my own internal light which was, in turn, becoming more locked to a Source of guidance from somewhere powerful beyond me. I was aligning my thoughts, deeds and intention so powerfully that it was resonating at a level of what seemed to be miraculous intervention. Whatever I needed to keep my mother going, just appeared at the right time – often in the most bizarre circumstances.
When nurses gave up because none of their treatements was working with a particular issue, I got on the internet and found a great product which was made in the USA. I left a message, asking someone to tell me whether I could have some sent to the UK urgently. The Marketing Director rang me minutes afterwards, to say it was also made in Holland. The Dutch person who answered said he was not often available on that day, and told me of a pharmacy in London which stocked the product. The UK pharmacy had two bottles in stock and within a couple of hours I had delivered by courier a product I had not even known had existed before my search – nor did the nurses, who were amaze at its efficacy.
Soon, I had taken so much capital out of my home that there was no choice but to sell. Almost as if by spiritual intervention, I noticed that my home, which we all loved so much and where I brought my mother to live with me, was no longer serving her. She was having difficulty ascending the stairs and I knew I would have to move. It was a heartbreaking decision but in the end it was based on pure practicality. The story of how that house had come into our lives is the topic of another story, for it offers the most enchanting proof of life after death and the phenomenal spiritual power of the next generation in my family which started over 125 years ago and has touched every mother so far in one ancestral line and two fathers; but the house of history had served its purpose and I had to find somewhere else to live, quickly.
I found a great estate agent who, after a short delay, took me to see a lovely bungalow in a quiet, residential area. It had a magnificently large conservatory overlooking a potentially beautiful, small garden. I lost no time in persuading our old gardener to work his magic in the new one, to ensure that my mother could derive as much pleasure as possible from sitting inside the glass dome each day and looking out. She spent most of her days there. The conservatory became a focal point, especially at 4.00pm each afternoon, when I would prepare tea for us both and we would eat it in virtual silence as we observed the beauty of the plants outside and make plans for all manner of good things in the future. We were always conjuring up some social event! It was the fuel which kept my mother going. Thankfully, I was the only one in the generation after hers to inherit her gregarious nature and unbridled love of entertaining.
My mother’s final days came in a week when I had not slept for three days. I knew something was deeply disturbing to her but I could not ascertain what. She was acutely restless as all of her organs prepared for shutdown. Her original doctor had moved to another clinic and new, equally caring, ones were recommending she went into hospital urgently if she was to stand a chance of saving her life. My mother refused. She wanted to remain at home. On many occasions, a senior administrator from a local hospice had visited us, to persuade my mother to come in, but she always adamantly refused. I would have stood by any decision my mother made, so if she wanted to be home, I was happy to continue to pamper her. I hid my tiredness, as I was prepared to care for her myself until I dropped. Her doctors, friends and our family all knew that I regarded caring for my mother as a privilege and blessing – never, for one second, was it ever any less.
My mother looked at me with the doleful, trusting eyes of a sick child. ‘I don’t want to leave you’, she said sadly. My heart dissolved in a monsoon of tears, but I had to keep them away from my face. I could not upset her further by showing how heartbroken I was that I no longer seemed to have the magic wand. I felt like a veneer of my former self. I was breaking and yet I had to hide it.
‘The doctors say you need to be in hospital urgently, Mum and I’ll be fine!’ I lied about myself. I knew my health was beginning to dip and I feared not being able to take care of either of us, as my resources were drying up and there was nowhere for either of us to turn. I smiled bravely and reassured my mother – and left the decision of her going to hospital or staying with me during this latest health battle. She went quiet and I saw tears fall in long, rapid droplets from her face as she bowed her head. ‘I’m so worried about you’, she uttered in despair. I was so exhausted that her words sounded like an echo in a vacuum in my head, but I wrapped my arms around her shoulder and told her all would be fine. I wanted to faint with exhaustion, but knew I had to keep going more than ever. My mother looked up, her eyes rimmed red with sorrow. ‘I will go to hospital’, she said quietly, as her doctor waited on the other end of the line for the urgent decision, then she added, ‘but I know I won’t be back’. As my heart melted and I fought back the tears, I knew she was right. We were saying goodbye.
In a few minutes, an ambulance appeared and took my mother away, with me sitting at the back, unable to even hold her hand, as medics did their medical tests. I stayed with her in the hospital, resting in a chair next to her bed all night and when she was transferred to another ward the next morning, I followed her there and wanted to stay some more; but the ward sister said it would be all right for me to go home for an hour and return. I did not wish to leave, but my daughter and her family had been at the bungalow too, having rushed to see my mother, and I wanted to ensure they had all they needed. Against my better judgement, I took a taxi to the short distance to my home. As my mother slept, I kissed her cheek and told her I loved her. She gripped my hand and squeezed it. It was our gesture to each other.
Just minutes after I opened my front door, the ward sister who had sent me home telephoned. My mother was dying. I had to return. My family and I dropped everything and got into our cars as we raced to the hospital. I arrived first, to find my mother lying peacefully with the tip of her nose and her lips just beginning to turn blue; yet I knew she could hear me. I took out my mobile phone and called my brother, so he could say goodbye, as I put the telephone to her ear; then I held her in my arms and thanked her for all she had done for me. I meant not only the noble motherly things, but for trusting me for caring for her and opening up a realm to a miraculous energy I had never known; for by then, she had lived fourteen years longer than all her doctors had predicted.
But, as I leaned over the hospital bed and held my mother’s cooling body close to mine, what gave me a frisson of joyful gratitude, even as my heart crumbled into a million pieces of weeping sorrow, was a comforting piece of truth. It was the knowledge that she had achieved every single thing – and many more – on her Wishlist that she had created fourteen years ago. Her priceless gift to me was delivery to the Realm of Loving Miracles – and to hand me the key of knowledge to take others there too.