By this time today, last year, our lives had changed, irrevocably.
The morning began like any other morning. I may have skipped my walk, as the previous day had been extremely busy. The SRE and I had gone to Bangkok for a conference the previous week, and my sister had been staying with my parents during our absence. She had planned to leave on the day after we returned, but owing to one or other of the eternal threats of bandh or strike on the Monday, decided to go on Tuesday afternoon. A dear friend had lost her father, and there was a ceremony for him on the same day, so I went there after leaving my sister at the airport.
I remember meeting my mother in the kitchen early in the morning as she was taking the tea tray to her room.
A while later, I heard my father call for me. (The home nurse used to come in at 8 a.m- this was about fifteen minutes before that). He told me that my mother seemed to be stuck in the bathroom. I wondered if the lock had jammed, and went to open the bathroom door. The door opened easily, fortunately not locked. My mother was sitting on the floor, parallel to the wall facing the commode. The floor was quite dry, but the porcelain cup she used to dilute her shampoo in lay shattered on the ground, and there was blood everywhere. The SRE and I managed to get her onto her bed, and covered her as she seemed to be in shock. Our GP was called, and he promptly came and examined her. At that point he could not say for sure whether she had a fracture or not. He prescribed painkillers, and asked me to observe her till that evening- if she was still in severe pain, I should take her for X-rays. The home nurse was told to give her a bed pan when required, and not let her get up.
The SRE was sent to his office, lunch was prepared and other routine jobs dealt with. In the afternoon I went to buy sufficient provisions for the week, just in case. I came back home and found that Mummy's pain had not decreased. I called my orthopaedic surgeon, and he advised me to take her to the hospital and get the prescribed X-rays done, and then he would examine her. When she left the room, I don't think any of us realised that this was the last 'normal' farewell she would ever say to my father. That same night, once she was admitted in the hospital with a broken neck-of-the-femur, her delusions and hallucinations began.
In retrospect, I am quite sure that she did not slip and fall in the bathroom. Having seen my father through two hip replacements, and essentially being a careful person, she was really cautious with her movements. What had happened would have been something intrinsic to her body- perhaps a TIA, perhaps a heart related event. Whatever the cause, and whatever she suffered in the next three months, seems like God's mercy- she did not have to see my father's slow and painful decline. Although she had wanted to take care of my father till his last breath, I don't think she would have been able to bear to see him suffer as much as he did. Even while she was in hospital, her delusions mostly centred around my father's care- was he properly covered, was he wearing his socks, had he eaten, why were his things not in their proper place.......
She used to wish that spouses could depart this world together. I have a feeling that she was taken first so that she could get things ready for Dad, make the way ready for him. I can quite imagine her nagging the workers in the Great Beyond to make sure that things are just right for her dear husband...........
For me, though, today was the beginning of the end.