The following Saturday I took my husband and son down with me to her house. I had explained the situation to my husband and he had responded with the usual reaction of a spouse in this situation; he thought that I was overreacting. However he agreed to support me. I waited until everyone sat down with tea that I had made and then I started on her.
"Mother please listen to me. I think that you are being a little unreasonable. It's obvious that you are not going to be able to cope on your own with that bad hip. It's only been a few weeks and already the house is looking neglected, even though you have help from Mrs Balin. It's clear that you should be in an environment in which there will always be people around in case you get into trouble. I really think that it would be in your best interests to move into a residential home, I would be quite willing to pay if it's the cost that you are worried about." I was pleased with my speech, it sounded calm and reasonable and I was sure that it would make my mother finally agree. I was surprised with her answer.
"Jennifer, I appreciate your concern but I am happy here in my own home. I am capable of looking after myself and I will not be made to feel that I am no longer to be trusted alone. If I choose to put myself into a home it will not be until I really am not able to cope alone and when that time comes I am sure I will be able to pay for myself. I'm sorry if you are worried about me but I can assure you that if I need help then I will not to be too proud to ask you for it." With that she turned the conversation to other things.
Her reply had been well thought out and sounded reasonable but I was sure that she was really just in denial. I was completely exasperated by the whole situation, and I was determined that I would not speak to her again until she had come to see sense. The next Sunday instead of calling at the usual time I went out for a walk. When I got back my husband gave me the message that my mother had called, but I refused to call her back. She called again that evening and once again before we went to bed. The next day the telephone rang while I was preparing lunch, and I picked it up. It was my mother and she sounded insulted that I hadn't called her. I could no longer restrain my anger at her and I shouted down the phone.
"How dare you call me as though nothing has happened? You're being incredibly selfish and inconsiderate. Don't you know how much we all worry about you? What are you trying to prove by being so stubborn? Don't call me again unless you are willing to talk sense." Then I hung up on her.
For the next three months I heard nothing from my mother. I began to regret what I had said to her, but I was too proud to try and break the ice. Then one morning I got a call from the hospital. My mother had been diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas and admitted to hospital. The cancer had spread and she was not expected to live more than a month longer. I drove straight down there and ran to the room where my mother was. Weeping I ran into her arms and hugged her.
"I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry." I kept saying. She just stroked my hair and told that it would all be OK. She died two weeks later, and all though there was no way to make up for the time we had lost we had both forgotten the argument that had nearly split us apart.