Monday, 27 May 2013

My Mam, 1925 - 2013

Mam and me, Blackpool 1967.

My apologies for not updating this blog for a couple of weeks. As some of you know, the last few years I've been dividing my time between work and caring for my mum who was housebound with arthritis and spondylosis. She was able to look after herself to an extent, and tried to be as independent as possible, but I'd help with meals, shopping, sorting out bills etc and generally keeping her company.

Sadly, on May 9th, when taking some shopping to her bungalow, I found her lying in the kitchen in a large pool of blood, having suffered a very nasty fall and head injury, possibly after a stroke. The prognosis at the hospital was bad. The neurosurgeon said the damage to her brain was too severe and only gave her 24 hours to live. Mum did show some sign of improvement though, and there was hope for a couple of days, but, as was originally feared, it became clear she would not recover.

The hospital staff at Universitry Hospital, Walsgrave, were excellent. They made mum as comfortable as possible and were very sympathetic. Knowing each day could be her last, I stayed by her bedside as long as I could. The accident had put mum into a state of semi-consciousness, like she was half awake, and she could no longer form words properly, so I don't know if her mind was in the present or wherever, but she did recognise me and tried to smile a couple of times when she saw me. I just sat beside her, talking to her of better, happier, days, of the pets we had, and the many holidays in Blackpool. And telling her how much she'd meant to me over the years. The good thing was she wasn't in any pain, and just looked comfortable and sleepy. 


Recent photo, 2013.
Mum fought bravely and survived for 11 days. I was with her 24/7 towards the end, as the staff had moved her to a side room and gave me a mattress and sheets so I could stay overnight. She passed away at 00.45am on Tuesday 21st May, very quietly and peacefully, with me holding her hand.



My mum's life had often been one of hardship and sorrow, but she dealt with it well, and never gave in. She was genuinely a good, kind person, supporting and devoted to her family throughout her life. She liked to be independent and kept herself to herself.  She was a very fair-minded person and tolerant of all people. As she always said, “There are good and bad in all races. Take each person as you find them.”

Mum had always been encouraging and supportive of me throughout my career, and earlier, when I used to draw my own comics as a child. I used to show her every comic strip I had published (except for the rude stuff like Viz) and she read every one, always looking for my signature afterwards. We often used to talk about times gone by, and she told me a lot about her life before I was born. She had decent moral values, and she was young at heart too, with a good sense of humour. Basically she was not only the best mum I could have wished for, she was my best friend too.

I have no family left now, so I have to adjust to a new normal life. Grief comes in waves, but hopefully, once the funeral is over, and I've cleared her council bungalow, I'll be back at the drawing board. 

Olive Stringer, 5th June 1925 - 21st May 2013. Rest in Peace now Mam. No more worries or stress. 



33 comments:

John Pitt said...

I really feel for you, Lew and I KNOW exactly what you have been/ are going through, as my brother and I are going through quite similar dark times now. My Mother was admitted to hospital at the beginning of the month and she will not be coming out and it is tearing our insides out. We don't know how little time she has left, but after losing our Dad last year, we will soon be orphans like yourself. Because of my situation I empathise completely with you. I HAVE to lose myself in " comic - land " to stop me from going insane! Condolences, John .

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, it's like being in limbo. Terrible. If it's any consolation, I found that each day actually prepared me more for the inevitable and made me able to deal with it better.

It's good that you have your brother to share your pain. I have no family, but my closest friends have been very supportive. As for losing myself in comicland, I'm afraid I can't concentrate on that yet. Still too much to sort out.

Best wishes to you and your brother.

Hairy Caveman said...

I'm sorry for your loss Lew. We all know it's going to happen sooner or later but that doesn't make it any easier. My mom died of cancer almost 9 years ago, 13 days before my son was born (talk about an emotional roller-coaster!)I didn't spend much time at her bedside, I was so busy sorting out our house for the new arrival. She died 30 minutes after I had left to carry on decorating. I've spent a long time kicking myself for not being there. Time, as they say, is a great healer and it's very true.
My thoughts are with you. Kind regards, Brian.

Jeremy Banx said...

This is a lovely piece, Lew.

Have you considered (when you feel up to it, of course) doing a strip about your mum's life and your times in Blackpool together?


All the very best,

Jeremy

Anonymous said...

Lew,

A lovely blog for your mum Lew - from previous post where you have mentioned her (and you dad) with great love it is obvious she knew how much you cared already - I honestly had to go away from the screen for a "bubble" (ok I'm not too proud to admit I cried like a baby) as like John, my mum is also very ill in hospital (and the staff not great) she is very lost and ill but still fighting but I'm not sure what is happening and in Limbo hell- Johns right it tears your insides out - so my thoughts are genuinely with you Lew (and John) to do and go through this on you own is an act of a real superhero.


I share your comments on being along, although I still have my mum (fingers crossed things get better) and an Uncle , cousin and 2 nieces they are too far away now (my Dad and brother having passed away all too soon) so I know the crippling "loneliness" that can bring (even if you have 100;s of friends family are what you crave at this time) My thoughts are with you both through the bad times and when that goes and you smile again.

Paul (McScotty)

Wesley Mead said...

A very touching post, Lew. Best wishes. This reader's thoughts are with you.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Jeremy. I've never done an autobiographical strip but it's a possibility I guess. We'll see.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Paul. I'm sorry to hear of your own worries. I know how you feel. I hope your mum pulls through and makes a full recovery.

TwoHeadedBoy said...

Sorry to hear about this, Lew. Sounds like you couldn't've been a better son. Best wishes to you.

Niblet said...

My condolences, Lew. It's clear that you took very good care of your mum and I'm sure that knowledge will be of comfort to you.

Anonymous said...

Lots of good wishes as always Lew, angi xxx

John Freeman said...

Very sorry for your loss, Lew. You know where I am if you want a chat.

Jeremy Banx said...

I'm working on some stories at the moment based (loosely) on my gran who I lived with when I was growing up. Its nice to spend time with her while I'm doing them and it brings back old memories.

My mum, my dad, my gran -none of them are really gone because they live on in the memories and stories I have of them. And if I can share them with other people its a bonus.

We're fortunate we can do this.

All the very best,

J

Peter Gray said...

Glad she liked your cartoon work and was humourus herself...hope you accept help from close friends to help you with grief and sorting things out..will be thinking and praying for you..

Lew Stringer said...

I tried my best, but wasn't there when she had the fall. I think she'd been lying there for half hour to an hour with a very bad head wound. The only comfort is that at least she didn't die on that kitchen floor, and was comfortable in hospital and I had chance to talk to her there.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, my friends here have been excellent. I couldn't wish for better friends, some of whom I've known all my life. They're my family now.

Anonymous said...

Sadly the news was bad Lew, my sky's fallen in again but we had a nice talk today and she was a bit more upbeat than yesterday more importantly I had the chance to tell her how much I love her (and vice versa) not stopped "bubbling" since - but made sure after reading you Blog to tell her that, so thank you - Paul

Lew Stringer said...

Sorry to hear that Paul, but I'm glad you've had chance to tell her your feelings. That's something you'll always cherish at least. My mum was in too much of a daze to respond to me vocally properly but she held my hand and I knew what she meant.

George Shiers said...

Very sad to hear this.

Barry said...

Sorry for your loss Lew, my thoughts are with you.

Tiniebras said...

Sorry for your loss. I've seen so many older people pass away after a fall. Its always hard because it's so unexpected compared to others who slowly deteriorate over time. I'm glad that she was comfortable and you were able to be there with her.

C_Oliver said...

A great many condolences for a great-sounding lady. My father passed away only last year.

Perhaps, however many months in the future, you should give serious thought to doing an (auto)biographical strip in the manner of Raymond Briggs' 'Ethel & Ernest', one of his masterpieces.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks, although I tend to find most autobiographical strips tedious personally. (I did enjoy Ethel and Ernest though.) My mum was a very private person so I don't think she'd like more details of her life revealed, apart from the basics I've recounted here.

Unknown said...

Lew condolences on your mother's passing. I read your incredibly touching blog amazed at how much she sounds like my own 85 year old mum who I am very close to.

Take care of yourself Lew.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks. I think that generation are very strong due to the times they grew up in. They've lived through such interesting decades of highs and lows.

Scrotnig said...

So sorry to hear this Lew :(

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks. It's tough getting through this but the funeral went as well as it could and the support of friends has helped me a great deal.

Peter Gray said...

I'm pleased to hear...

Steve B said...

Sorry for your loss Lew. I've read and enjoyed your blogs for years now - all the best.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Steve. Going to try and get some drawing done tomorrow. Haven't done any for almost 4 weeks.

Digi Marabese said...

A fitting epitaph. My own mum passed away 2 years ago - she was also a lovely lady. They live on though in our memories, every day and into the afterlife. Condolences Lew.

Anonymous said...

So very sorry for your loss Lew. Being a single child too I know how raw it will all be for you at this time. All the best, Ken.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks, Digi and Ken.