The Long Goodbye – Part 2

Never make promises you can’t keep and inevitable outcomes

Often during my teenage years I would sit with my mother and ponder life, the universe and one or two other “trivial” matters. Often the conversation would turn to growing old and to the pros and cons of nursing homes and more weighty matters such as the right to die. I can’t have been much more than 14 when my mum gave me a very serious and determined look and made me promise not to ever put her in a nursing home.  At 14 what do you say? You understand why someone would make such a demand and as you are the child you will inevitably one day be faced with the demise of a parent. From the day we are born we know that if nature runs its course a child will outlive its parent and will one day in effect be “orphaned”. However, at such a young age in your early teens, the incapacity or god forbid the death of a parent seems so far away.  Mum would often speculate on how she could best end her life if she was faced with a terminal illness. She would try and think of ways where she could get help (from me or others) without the assister getting into trouble.  Whereas she would want to end her life under certain circumstances, she would definitely not want to get a loved one into trouble. “Well”, she’d say, “if its winter I can always go to sleep outside!” With temperatures regularly plummeting below -30°C it was clear what she had in mind. Anyway, she didn’t get ill, in fact, considering her lifestyle she was always unashamedly well. Rarely even a sniffle. Not that anything as trivial as a cough or a cold on the rare occasion they did happen would make any difference. Nor having a hip replaced. “Work is the best medicine”. Idle hands and all that.  Even as I got into my 20s and 30s and I’d had a day off work due to a severe cold or man flu would I ever own up to that? No way! She’d have been horrified!

—   So, promises made and decades would pass until one day something happened to test my mettle…..


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