Written by Harriet Dyer

Voices

The Life Palavers of Harriet Dyer: Mother Goose

Harriet Dyer was a human catastrophe: drugs, drink and institutions. She’s back on her feet and has some life lessons to share. This week Harriet has written about her Mum… and encourages everyone to make the most of theirs while they can.

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Me with my Mum and my brother

On October 26, 2014 my mother Vivian Louise Dyer passed away.

It’s easy to think everything will always be how it always has been. I took for granted that mum would always be there and never envisaged this would happen.

Perhaps selfishly I assumed that because I’ve previously led such a hedonistic lifestyle, I might even go before her. But as my dad says, “never assume.”

I’ve met quite a few people who have lost their mum young. I’d always feel for them and not be able to comprehend how they must’ve felt. Now I can and it sucks beyond belief!

My mum had a stroke in 2008 and even though she got better, she never really fully recovered. She was having her hair cut at the time it happened. The hairdresser suggested calling an ambulance to which she replied: “Finish cutting my bloody hair first!”

Many ailments came as a knock on effect from the stroke, but years later. Apparently this isn’t uncommon.

During her last few weeks we thought there’d been a turnaround. She said she could now get socks on her feet that had previously been too swollen; she’d been generally pottering around more; and she’d started to spend the whole night in her bed – beforehand she’d been in too much pain and had to divide the night between the bed and the sofa.

She told me her worst issue was ‘indigestion’, which was making her uncomfortable. I suggested indigestion tablets and that she didn’t eat her dinner on the sofa anymore.
Unbeknown to us she’d had a little heart attack.

I remember coming home from work one day and mum was standing in the front room with a massive stick. I was like: “What you doing with that?” She goes, “I thought we could play limbo tonight!”

She couldn’t breathe properly on October 25, but as she didn’t like to make a fuss she rang my dad instead of an ambulance. He called an ambulance. Once they realised what had happened they fitted a stent and said she needed a brain scan too, so my brother and dad went to get an overnight bag for her while they were doing this.

The doctor decided she was too weak for the scan. She then struggled for breath, rolled over and passed away. It broke my heart that it happened when my brother and dad had gone to get her bag, and I was still in transit from Manchester.

Luckily her pal Theresa was there. Theresa is such a strong cookie and has come out the other side of a stroke and a brain tumour, not always empty handed. They once went to TK Maxx and were looking at handbags and chatting away, then went for a cuppa down the road – only to realise Theresa had an arm full of handbags she’d accidentally walked out with.

Mum was the funniest. Her sense of humour was dry, quick and often unexpected. I’d always describe her as a “slow burner” because she would initially seem a bit shy if she didn’t know you, but once she was comfortable, being around her and the things she came out with was priceless.

I remember coming home from work one day and mum was standing in the front room with a massive stick. I was like: “What you doing with that?” She goes, “I thought we could play limbo tonight!”

Our Christmases together were my favourite times. I was 30 last year, but mum would still creep into my room with a sack in the middle of the night while I was sleeping, and we’d all pretend Santa had been. She found such fun in the most innocent of things.

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Mum was the funniest. Her sense of humour was dry, quick and often unexpected.

One year we got her a foot spa and we saved it for New Year’s Eve to stay in and have a girly night. We turned it on and then pottered upstairs to get our dressing gowns. We came back down and the whole room was filled with suds. I was an idiot and had put soapy liquid in instead of oils, then whacked it on full blast. We giggled away like two girls at a foam party.

The thought of life without my mum confuses and upsets me and makes me question everything I used to believe in. My mum was so unlucky and there was always some obstacle or another in her way. I’d say to her that because she was a genuinely lovely person something wonderful would one day happen for her, and I was sure of that. It didn’t quite happen.

I’m glad she isn’t in pain anymore, and I don’t think I’ll ever ‘get over it’ or indeed ever want to, but I imagine with time it’ll get easier. I’m honoured to have had 30 years with her.

So, without sounding like a sop bag, please treasure your parents whilst they’re still here.

For help and support in coping with bereavement, you can visit the dedicated NHS page. There are also many charity organisations which can help including Bereavement UKCruse Bereavement Care The Samaritans 

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Written by Harriet Dyer

Harriet Dyer is an eccentric and full of life palavers human being that originally hails from the land of Cornwall.