Sylvia’s Story

Nana spent her last few days in St Tydfil’s Hospital.

I remember how the nurses there, on her first day, had her walking to the toilet and back, encouraging her and motivating her. Just those few steps before she became too tired were such an accomplishment after being told by the previous hospital that she would not walk again.

From the day we received the phone call that she was showing deterioration to the day she passed away (5 days in total) I wanted to be by her side. The first night we stayed with her was probably the only night she was fully aware of us, not fully, but she knew we were there. And in her moments of clarity she was able to talk; only a few words, but those words are so precious to me now and I’m so grateful that I was able to have those moments with her.

The hardest part, when she was still able to converse, was her calling out for her loved ones who are no longer with us, her mum and dad and siblings.  I hope that deep down she knew that it was us there that night and until the end, and that it brought her some comfort.

The night I most remember is when, after she had been moved into a cubicle of her own, some of her granddaughters and daughters stayed all night. We spent the night talking about memories of our times with nana, laughing and crying. Nana wasn’t awake for any of this, and wouldn’t be awake again, but I hope she heard all that. That room was filled with so much love I hope she felt it and it brought her some comfort, knowing she was loved so much by so many.

The days before she died have become one long of blur of sitting with her, holding her hand, talking to her and being too scared to leave, even for one minute.  Leaving nana wasn’t an option for me, and having to leave was a struggle, it was very hard. Having looked after nana when she lived with us, caring for her, it was my duty to be there with her. I needed to be there for her, to show her how much I loved her, how thankful I was of everything she had done for me, and to repay the years she looked after me when I was younger. She played such a big role in bringing me up, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for her. I wanted to make sure she was never alone and never had to feel scared.

Nana was very lucky that when she died she was surrounded by so many of her family. Her hand was never not held, her hair not stroked.

My nana was given so much care, and knowing that she felt no pain and was unaware of what was happening made the whole situation easier to handle, but it also hurt, knowing that she couldn’t hear us in her final hours, telling her how much we loved her. But to keep me going, to be able to accept and deal with her passing, I have to believe that she knew we were there.