The Final Curtain

It’s been just over ten months since we said goodbye to my lovely dad. To be honest, in those dark days following his untimely death, when time seemed to stand still and it felt like I was walking through treacle, I really thought Mum would go too.

We joked about it, the three of us; my brother, sister and me. We challenged the universe to do its worst, get it all over with while we were already so broken. It would have seemed a fitting, almost romantic end to their love story, we thought.

But the universe had a different plan.

It waited until we were least expecting it.

Of course it did!!

So, my wonderful Mum has died.

Mum and baby Martha

It was quite suddenly, apparently.

“Unexpected” they told my brother on the phone at 3am on Sunday morning.

“Really?” he responded, incredulous.

But apparently, it was. They expected her to simply fade, to give us a little notice so that we could be there with her for her final days. Hold her hand and talk to her as she drifted away.

But Mother, being the headstrong, wilful, independent and sometimes contrary woman she was, had different ideas.

Good for you, Mum!

So, that’s it. The dementia journey for my family is over. We have another funeral to plan; another order of service to arrange, appropriate pieces of music to select, photos to pick out, the obituary to write.

I thought I was ready for my mum to go.

I was up there last week visiting her with my sister. We sat with her and stroked her hair and chatted to her. We played her videos of her granddaughters singing. Then I told her that if it was time to leave, then she could go. That Dad would be waiting for her. I didn’t actually expect her to just go on and die. I mean, she’d never listened before when I’d told her many times that she didn’t have to hang around for us. That we’d be okay without her. That if she’d had enough, she should just check out. That we would miss her forever, but that it was the right thing…..

I never actually thought she’d go.

One of my dad’s favourite pictures

Someone once told me that when you love someone with dementia you grieve whilst they are still alive and I absolutely believe that’s true. I have already grieved for my mum in so many ways over the past six years. Every stage of her dementia has brought on a different grief. A different loss and pain.

But the finality of it all, is also grief.

It is a different grief to that I felt with my dad. I felt his loss so physically. In those early days it was like having a constant vice around my chest, like I couldn’t get enough air into my lungs. Everything felt loud and uncomfortable, a bit like when you have a fever and a nightmare. You toss and turn frantically to try and escape the weird, haunting visions but you can’t escape. Every movement hurts and every sound reverberates in your head, blinding you with the pain.

With mum it’s different. I don’t miss her physically – her voice or her presence in my life – I have not had her in my life for so long that I am used to being motherless. But, the sadness is still overwhelming. The sorrow of what she has had to go through is still able to blindside me.

The next few days I will be putting together my eulogy which I will read out at her funeral. I will have to reach back to before the dark dementia days. To the woman whose laugh was so loud and uninhibited, it was infectious and made strangers chuckle. The woman who was never phased by anything: who could sew a pair of lined silk curtains in the morning, cook a three-course fine dining supper in the evening and then lead everyone around the room in a ceilidh until the early hours. The woman who raised her daughters to be have unwavering morals, to be brave and independent and fiercely protective mothers. The woman who raised her son to be one of the best men I know.

So, thank you everyone who has ever read any of my blog posts. Thank you for all the support and kind words over the past five years. I hope my outpouring of words helped some of you feel you weren’t alone in your own dementia journeys. I hope my sometimes overly personal sharing helped to raise awareness of what dementia is really like at the coal face.

I never knew when I first sat at my computer and poured my heart out onto a screen, where this journey would take me, or when it would end.

Now I know.

It ended on the 23rd May, 2021. R.I.P Jane Turner.

I hope they’re back together again. He missed her so much these last few years. I hope they’re dancing and laughing together, as it should be.

I will miss them both forever.

But I will also be forever grateful they were mine.

30 thoughts on “The Final Curtain

Add yours

  1. The final curtain may have dropped but your mum will always be in your memories & your heart. She will be sadly missed by all who knew her. Sending hugs x

    Like

  2. Oh Sarah I’m so, so sorry to read this and my heart goes out to you and all your family. The honesty and bravery you’ve shown in sharing your story will have touched many people and given them much needed comfort on their own dementia journey. I fully agree with you about the living grief of watching the life of a loved one being eroded by dementia, the feeling of utter helplessness and the knowledge that although they are still “alive” the person you knew and loved with all your heart has gone forever.
    Your words have been a huge support to me over the years and I wish I were better with words so that I could express the depth of my feelings. The next few days and weeks will be filled with legalities and niceties, doing the things that are expected of one at such a time. Please do make time for yourself in the busy days to come; time to grieve and time to look back on all the many happy memories you have of your wonderful parents. I remember you posting a photo of your Mum and Dad dancing, your Dad in his kilt, twirling your Mum around the dance floor, both of them filled with love and joy. They’ve had their last dance in this world but I’m sure that somewhere they’ll be dancing together now.
    With much love to you all
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Alison. I remember the photo you mention well and you’ve inspired me to dig it out and perhaps use it on Mum’s order of service.
      Thank you for your extremely kind words. They mean so much.
      With much love
      Sarah x

      Like

  3. As always Sarah your words are so eloquently written how you are able to transfer your feeling, emotion and your grief into words is beautiful. Your mum and dad would be so proud of the strength you have found. Love to you all Rachel. X

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. As those of us who have lost a parent to dementia understand, there is a strange mixture of painful loss and relief that our loved ones are free from this terrible disease. You have captured your journey through the loss of both of your parents so eloquently in your blog posts. I hope you will find comfort in the love and support of family.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sarah, I’m so sorry for the loss of your mum, (and dad, months ago). I’ll be honest, I haven’t stayed on top of any blogs lately, (nor have I stayed on top of writing mine) even though I get notified in my email that someone posted something new. But, today I decided to read yours when I saw it, just because I was wondering where you were at in your journey. I don’t know if it was a sign or not, but today was obviously one of your more informational blogs. I’m glad I decided to click on it. I just lost my mom less than two months ago to Early Onset Alzheimer’s. You explained it so well here – that the loss of someone with dementia is so different than any other loss. The grieving is different and so drawn out over the years while they’re ill. Though our loved ones were here physically, they truly haven’t been with us for a while. I pray that you find comfort in all the wonderful memories you have with your mum. She sounded like a wonderful woman that we all worried had the pleasure of knowing! And she and your dad definitely raised an intelligent and kind hearted young woman – you!!! Prayers and hugs to you and your family during this difficult time ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Dawn, I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your mum. I have loved hearing from you over the years and thank you sincerely for your support and kind words. We are a strange band of brothers aren’t we? Brought together through a shared pain.
      I wish you so much love and strength as you continue through your grief journey.
      I’m just behind you – will keep an eye on our blog and try to pick you up should you stumble
      Sarah xxx

      Like

  6. Thinking of you and all your family. Jane was a special person. Thank you for giving me an insight into your lovely parents’ lives from before I knew them through the golf. The photos in particular have been great. My abiding memory of your Mum is how much she loved her children and grandchildren. I too had a Mum with vascular dementia. Take care and see you next week.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, Sarah, I am so very sorry to read this – though it is a release for your Mum, that doesn’t diminish the sense of loss and grief. Such a lot for you all to go through in such a short space of time.

    Once again, your experiences almost mirror mine. My parents both had dementia and died just over a year apart and my mum (who sounds surprisingly like yours!) shocked us all by dying of a massive heart attack the day after she moved into a care home.

    I have really enjoyed – if that is the right word – your blog posts over these last few years. Knowing others are going through something similar is undoubtedly a comfort. I hope you’ll check in again on this blog, as I’d be interested to hear how you’re doing in due course and I’m sure others would, too. While it is our loved ones who suffer from dementia, I feel we, as families, are all Dementia Survivors! I remember looking at a colleague whose parents had both died with dementia and thinking ‘So life after this is possible ‘. It gave me hope in the midst of a lot of days of despair.

    In the meantime, please accept my condolences to you and your family and make sure you all look after yourselves through this difficult time.

    xx

    Like

  8. My heart goes out to you all. They were both such incredible people and I feel privileged to have known them and been part of your lives for a short time. A time full of fun and laughter. May they both be together again where they belong. Love always. Jocelyn

    Liked by 1 person

  9. (second attempt at posting a comment – apologies if this is a duplicate)

    Oh, Sarah, I am so very sorry to read this – though it is a release for your Mum, that doesn’t diminish the sense of loss and grief. Such a lot for you all to go through in such a short space of time.

    Once again, your experiences almost mirror mine. My parents both had dementia and died just over a year apart and my mum (who sounds surprisingly like yours!) shocked us all by dying of a massive heart attack the day after she moved into a care home.

    I have really enjoyed – if that is the right word – your blog posts over these last few years. Knowing others are going through something similar is undoubtedly a comfort. I hope you’ll check in again on this blog, as I’d be interested to hear how you’re doing in due course and I’m sure others would, too. While it is our loved ones who suffer from dementia, I feel we, as families, are all Dementia Survivors! I remember looking at a colleague whose parents had both died with dementia and thinking ‘So life after this is possible ‘. It gave me hope in the midst of a lot of days of despe, please accept my condolences to you and your family and make sure you all look after yourselves through this difficult time.

    xx

    Like

  10. Oh Sarah loads and loads of love to you and your siblings,(and family) aren’t siblings an amazing thing to have and to hold. The three of you will each remember different stories. Your parents sounded AMAZING and gave so much to their world. You must be so proud and yes exactly cherish that they were yours, yours, yours. They will be proud of you and yours. Selfishly I will miss your amazing writing. I’ll be raising a glass to the doctor and his dancer, thinking of them together makes me smile (even though I’m crying my bloody eyes out) X X Rax

    Like

    1. “The doctor and his dancer” – I love it!
      Thank you for your lovely words, Rax and for your support and kindness over the past few years. I’m not sure what to do with my blog yet, perhaps I need to get through the next few weeks before even considering it.

      Lots of love
      Sarah x

      Like

  11. Sarah

    It took my breath away a little to open your blog today and read this post. I have checked in regularly here over the years. As my own Mum’s dementia progressed, I would come back to different posts and find huge comfort in your brilliant writing. ‘Yes that is exactly how it is’ has been in my mind always. But for me the breathtaking part, over and above that, is that my Mum died on Tuesday afternoon this week. What I would often think of as our parallel paths, stayed parallel.

    Please accept my very, very sincere condolences for the losses of your lovely Mum and your lovely Dad. In case it is any comfort at all, I wanted to tell you that for me your biggest talent has been to leave versions of your Mum, your Dad and your family here, that have nothing at all to do with dementia. They just sing of love, and laughter, great joy in each other, and lives so well lived.

    All my best wishes and strength to you, Sarah.

    Hannah

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Hannah! I was so sad to read your words but also strangely comforted that as our paths have been so aligned, they have remained so even at the very end.

      Please accept my sincere condolences for the loss of your mum. It is going to be a tough few weeks for us both and I am sending you so much strength to get through it with as much self-love as you can.

      And, thank you for your kind words. They have left me choking back the tears, not only because they are kind and wonderful and I’d love to think my writing depicts those lovely things, but that in the midst of your own grief, you are trying to relieve mine a little.

      Writing my blog has enabled me to virtually meet such wonderful humans – you being one of them.

      Take care of yourself. I hope you recover from all that you have been through and get to the stage when you can free yourself from the long shadow of dementia.

      Sarah xxx

      Like

      1. Cheers to that, Sarah – for both us. We have chosen a reading for Mum’s remembrance service, which I thought might resonate with you too; On the Death of the Beloved by John O’Donohue. Hope to see you back on these pages one day…

        Xx Hannah

        Like

  12. Oh, Sarah, I am so very sorry to read this – though it is a release for your Mum, that doesn’t diminish the sense of loss and grief. Such a lot for you all to go through in such a short space of time.

    Once again, your experiences almost mirror mine. My parents both had dementia and died just over a year apart and my mum (who sounds surprisingly like yours!) shocked us all by dying of a massive heart attack the day after she moved into a care home.

    I have really enjoyed – if that is the right word – your blog posts over these last few years. Knowing others are going through something similar is undoubtedly a comfort. I hope you’ll check in again on this blog, as I’d be interested to hear how you’re doing in due course and I’m sure others would, too. While it is our loved ones who suffer from dementia, I feel we, as families, are all Dementia Survivors! I remember looking at a colleague whose parents had both died with dementia and thinking ‘So life after this is possible ‘. It gave me hope in the midst of a lot of days of despair.

    In the meantime, please accept my condolences to you and your family and make sure you all look after yourselves through this difficult time.

    xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Helen, thank you so much for your kind words. It has been a privilege to get to know you a little through this blog and I am so glad my ramblings helped you feel less alone, even a little.

      I’m not sure what to do with my blog now. Perhaps it’s too soon to even try and think about that.

      I love the term Dementia Survivors! I feel slightly battle weary just now – bruised and battered and drained of all strength, but the worst is over. It’s now time to start remembering my mum before the dark days of her dementia. To focus on that woman, that mother and not the stranger she became.

      With much love and thanks for you support over these past few years.
      Sarah x

      Like

      1. Hi again, Sarah. I’ve found that the good memories do return – at one point I thought they’d be buried forever – and it starts to feel as if all the horrible stuff happened to some other person. I stumbled across a quote this week that really resonates with me: ‘Behind every strong woman is a story that gave her no other choice.’ – Nakeia Homer. I know you will find the strength to get through this. xx

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I am deeply sorry to hear this. Your mum and dad were both wonderful people.
    I did your mums hair for many years before she became ill.
    They will now be together again.
    Dancing and laughing.
    Sending the family huge hugs
    Loretta. Xxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Loretta. Dad spoke so fondly of you and explained how fabulous you were when Mum was in the early stages of her confusion. I will be forever grateful for your kindness to both of them. The world needs more people like you.
      x

      Like

  14. Hello Sarah, I was so sad to read about your mum.
    I was lucky enough to know both your lovely parents through dancing. They always looked so great together, I can only think of them being re-united and in each others arms. I spent too few hours in their company, but was always happy in the time we shared.
    You and your siblings will have made them both very proud, and are unique products of your parents.
    You are your mother’s daughter.

    Thank your for taking time to write your blog.

    Sending hugs to all the family

    Vicky Laidlaw x

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Sarah – so sad to hear this, though we both know “sad” doesn’t quite cover it. I’m so glad that I got to share this horror with anyone, and you in particular. Perhaps our parents will by now have met and are saying, “yes but listen to what MINE wrote about ME…”

    Like

Leave a Reply to Rachel Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: