House of Straw

Circumstances of recent days have dictated I’ve had neither the time or inclination to pen a blog of late; and with far greater events requiring my attention, if truth be told, that lack of inclination still lingers large. In fact, the only reason I’ve chosen to chronicle current life events is as a distraction from the prevailing melancholic episodes; seeking to restore some sort of mind order and perspective in its wake.

My melancholy borne from a hospital consultant’s chilling prognosis on Sunday that my mother’s recent rapid cognitive decline, leading to recent hospitalisation, was consequential of multiple brain tumours. This blindsiding the family, in particular when hearing these devastating metastatic nodules were of such aggressive nature our beloved matriarch would only be with us for around two more weeks.

When my dad lay moribund four years ago I found writing about the lugubriousness of events prior to and post passing a helpful coping mechanism – Not to mention an interesting and oft moving read after the fact.

As I mulled over whether I should construct this prose, yours truly concluded the prevailing Strachan family zeitgeist was ripe for essay. After all, I partly write these narratives to journal my daily existence, making the current landscape as worthy as any for revelation in prose.

Avoiding cliche is the first pitfall to circumnavigate when writing of impending loss of a loved one. Despite their undoubted relevance, terms like ‘pain cutting like a knife’, ‘numbness’ and ‘despair’ are overused descriptives for my current life plot lines.

Instead I seek to chronicle a cleverer way of depicting events as they currently unfold. Amongst those thoughts is to describe the helplessness of protecting our beloved mother being akin to defending the three little pigs from the big bad wolf when straw house in situ.

The metaphorical wolf (Grim Reaper) currently standing outside the door of the flimsy abode ready to huff, puff and blow the house down. A forthcoming plot line we (family and friends) can’t do a god damned thing to stop. Instead, our input reduced to providing comfort prior to the straw being dismissed in a gust of wolf puff. Sadly, there’s no option for us to gather mum in our arms and take her to a brick built place of safety.

Mum’s race is nearly run and all the many people who adore her can do is ensure she’s as comfortable as possible in those final days before the wolf strikes.

That being said, I’m unsure whether that metaphor works. Perhaps, if deciding to use a wolf-related children’s fairytale metaphor, the tale of Little Red Hiding Hood visiting her grandma bears closer comparison. The wolf in this analogy donning the little girl’s scarlet cloak to surreptitiously take grandma (my mum). An old lady whose not too sure what’s going on but gets ever more suspicious at the point of her exclaiming “What big teeth you’ve got, my dear!”

Anyhow, the literary merit of my metaphors is the last thing on my mind at the moment. The catalyst behind writing this piece is to offload thoughts, and maybe gain a little catharsis during these worst days of my life, alongside the dreadful time of my father’s passing four years ago.

To close, I’ve decided to revert to cliche. After all, although seemingly contradictory, as I write this (still unsure whether to publish it as a blog) gut wrenching pain and numbness are my bed-fellows. Although only a handful of individuals are aware of my mother’s condition, the support my siblings and me have received from family/friends have gone some way to counter the mental fatigue and angst consequential of these dreadful times.

To further close, I’ve written recently about how dementia had diminished my mum’s cognitive wherewithal, consequently robbing us of our ‘old mum’. Yesterday, though, from her hospital bed she showed there’s still some of the old Maggie there when on leaving her hospital bedside she responded to an off-colour quip with a mildly colourful retort of her own.

Her brisk and playful admonishment directed at me, one made many times in my adulthood after I’d wound her up’, making me laugh uproariously…… Never have I been so happy to be told to “P*** off!”

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