Archive for February 22nd, 2023

February 22, 2023

Final words…..

by Rod Smith

Have-you-eaten were mother’s final words to me. Mother gasped this well-worn phrase, one used hundreds and if not thousands of times, through the paraphernalia of masks and tubes before dying alone on the fifth floor of Addington Hospital.

During the 18 months prior to her death mom had had a breast removed, endless bouts of chemotherapy and visited every faith healer in the greater region. But, the cancer had spread, and coronary disease and lung failure were the scribed causes of death.

I was at home and asleep when mom died.

A nurse phoned and woke me with the news at twenty minutes past two in the morning on May 15th, 1980.

I was furious having repeatedly asked to be called if Mother’s condition deteriorated. The thought of Mother dying alone was very disturbing to me.  Dad gasped when I phoned with the news and after the brief call I headed towards the hospital on my motorcycle and strided through the quietness of the hospital to the ward and was surprised to find everything functioning as usual and mom’s bed vacant. Every trace of Mother was gone and new folded sheets and a pin-stripe blanket waited for whomever was next.  

I snooped my way to the hospital bowels in search of the in-house mortuary but a combination of fear of the nether world, of still, vacant-stare corpses, the possibility of meeting a masked, gloved worker readying Mother for some macabre final test propelled me to street level and and I roared towards the southern freeway to sleep the rest of night at Jenny, my sister’s house. My twelve-year-old nephew and I slept on the living room carpet and he rambled, trying to bring me comfort, although he too had just lost his beloved grandmother.