Ruth Marie Falby née Ohna, 11 March 1934 - 24 February 2010

Ruth Marie Falby née Ohna, 11 March 1934 - 24 February 2010

Mom died last night.

She was admitted to the Royal Devon & Exeter on the 12th of Feb after a fall in the kitchen which broke her hip. I headed down on Friday afternoon and caught up with Mom and Dad in the A&E where Mom was in the middle of something that looked like a stroke and stayed with her until some time in the early morning when Dad and I headed back to the house.

Since then she’s been on oxygen as the doctors tried to stabilise her enough to operate on her hip. It’s been a painful week and it turns out Dad had been toughing it out on his own most of January as Ruth’s health nose-dived (Dad, you should have called sooner) and was running on empty (Dug, why didn’t you call him sooner) so the three of us stumbled through Friday night and then Saturday morning…

Fast forward to today, what’s going on in my head? Well the first thing that keeps coming back is why did I leave her on Sunday? I waved goodbye around Sunday lunchtime so I could drive back to London to be at work in Paddington on Monday. I can still see the look in her eye as she waved at me (slight confusion, a little bewilderment) and I waved at her. I had been reading Stieg Larsson to her and her morning was fairly quiet. The nurses had come to give her her morning bath and that was my queue to leave her space…

…and then the call this morning. And the call last night: that’s the other thing, Dad called me late last night at work to tell me Mum had been prepped for the hip surgery but had relapsed and was having difficulty breathing again. I thought perhaps I should head down but I was knackered and it was freezing so a late-night three-hour bike ride seemed like a bad idea.

This morning, after Dad called to say she had left us around midnight I just wanted to kick myself–if only I had gone down the night before… So in the end I got to Devon around lunchtime today. The chaps in the mortuary were great and even though I had arrived unannounced, with no appointment and before the required time had passed they sorted me out after only a short wait.

I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t go down last night but this morning felt like I had a chance to say goodbye properly. I stood with her for a while and talked with her and cried and then thanked the mortuary staff and headed outside. Being alone with my thoughts I felt I could experience both the sadness of Ruth’s struggle through pain and confusion and ultimately death and then experience that more fully, though I’m sure the week ahead will bring other feelings and experiences I felt more connected and more, I guess more like I was giving Mom some much needed respect just by sitting there.

So now Jed, Elsie, Ohna and I have got to work out the next steps. I hope Mom is happy with whatever we come up with.