My mum had Motor Neurone Disease and had lost the use of her body. She could still speak and her mind and wit were as sharp as ever but she was permanently attached to a breathing machine and hadn't been out of the house since June of that year.
Now my mum and dad's house was just a little one bedroom bungalow and therefore not big enough to hold all of us on Christmas Day so my mum decided that she would come to mine, as would everyone else, like she did the year before.
Sounds like a great plan but how the hell were we gonna get her there? My dad, previously, before she was totally dependant on her breathing machine, had arranged for a fancy electrical socket to be fitted to the car so that he could take her out and about and plug in her equipment if need be. Sounds good in theory huh?
Unfortunately, since my mum had become totally dependant on her machine we had been unable to unplug it, AT ALL! Once news of my mum's plan went around the family, it was met with complete horror and my sisters and brothers were thinking that she had completely lost the plot. But there was to be no changing her mind and we just had to go with it!
|The machine was like this. This isn't her obviously but you get the picture!|
Then there was the added problem of getting her hoist, special chair etc into my house as they were quite bulky equipment but my mum had already thought of that. My brother had a removal/delivery business at the time so she enlisted his help in transferring all this equipment on Christmas Eve.
Sounds like a great plan right but of course, none of the equipment could be moved until after she was in the car, cos obviously she had been using it right up til then! It was also very heavy so my brother Stephen needed help, so my other brother Michael was enlisted to help but since he has Multiple Sclerosis, he got tired very easy and his leg and arm would often play up. Not a great combination!
So the Christmas Eve arrived and my sis-in-law, Jacqui and I ran about like headless chickens, taking stuff out of the living room to make room for this huge chair and other equipment. This meant moving around Jack's equipment too so it was gonna be a very jammed packed house. Jack luckily could still walk at this point but his seizures were really quite bad and quite stressful. Thankfully, both Holly and Jack were with Father of the Year so they weren't witnesses to us trying not to panic about my mum actually managing to get here without dying on us. Truthfully, considering we were child free that day, we were anything but chilled!
The moving of my mum was planned with military precision. The plan was, that once my mum was in the car, my brothers would load up her stuff and take it to my house, while my dad drove around Elgin and Lossiemouth, showing my mum all the really bonnie Christmas decorations/lights up in the town and around peoples houses. Sounds like a lovely idea but as my mum couldn't lift her head I doubt that she saw much of anything!!!
|Elgin Town Centre|
My brothers arrived stressed to the eyeballs as it had not gone as smoothly as expected and my mum had totally panicked at the moment of "unplugging" and I think there was a collective sigh of relief when her machine started up again once in the car. Can you blame her really? Thank god my dad didn't stall the car as it would have been the end of her!
After we had gotten everything in, my brothers had left, Jacqui and I then set about positioning the chair in what we thought was the best place in the living room and then we just had to wait. And wait. And wait.
They were away an hour and it seemed like forever! Finally they parked outside my house and my dad was quite chuffed with himself, bless him, for being able to show my mum all the "bonnie lighties" as my friends daughter used to call them. I let out a sigh of relief cos "woo hoo" they were here and we were on the home straight.
Not so, because as my dad faffed about with an extension lead, deciding where to plug it in before disconnecting my mum's machine, she went into total panic mode and Jacqui and I had to calm her down. Jacqui was chatting to her through the window and I carefully got into the drivers seat and sat beside her, holding her hand and talking calmly all the while thinking " bloody hurry up dad!" as my mum was panicking that the car would stall or that the extension lead wouldn't work!
As you can imagine, mine and Jacqui's stress levels at this point were at an all time HIGH but at last my dad was able to disconnect her and get her out of the car and into her waiting chair in my house. I was never so relieved to see her sititng there I can tell you.
Then Jacqui and I had to rush off to pick up Holly as we were off out for our tea and then to the Christingle service. When we finally sat down in the restaurant, I looked over at Jacqui who looked as white as a sheet and started laughing hysterically. After we both got control of ourselves, Jacqui said "I don't know what you're laughing about, you're as white as me and you look like you've aged 10 years!" to which we both fell about laughing again. And she was right, I felt like I'd aged 10 years in that one hour and a half but mind you she looked about as good as me at that point!! Sorry Jacqui but it is so true.
Back home, my living room rearranged cos my mum didn't like where we had put her and both kids in bed, Jacqui and I had consumed quite a lot of wine just to get over the trauma!
Christmas Day dawned and I heard Holly leg it down the stairs, opening the living room door, then running around the house and finally back up to me, upset saying "Santa hasn't come!!". I suggested that maybe Santa didn't put them in the living room because there was already too much stuff in there and to try Jack's room which she did and then the squeals of delight cos she had found all her presents.
Christmas Day turned out to be truly fantastic. The whole family was there, buzzing around with my mum in the centre of it all, as it has always been and I think for her and us, it was worth all the trauma. It was to be her last Christmas but even so it was the most memorable, for all the right and the wrong reasons. My mum was one very determined and stubborn lady, two traits I have inherited.
And getting her home? Well it was so much easier and less traumatic second time around.