It was a ruddy funny thing. At first I put it down to all the little kiddies in the family making me feel broody. But you shouldn’t get broody at 81. I couldn’t deny it though. My bosoms were getting bigger. I told myself not to be so soft. I enjoyed having kiddies in the family. I had always enjoyed being around kiddies. But it was way too late for me now.
And then they started leaking. It looked like milk! I didn’t know what to think. Leaky milk bottles… At my age!
I hadn’t been feeling all that good, so I went to see the doctor. He prodded and poked them a bit, and then he telephoned the ruddy hospital and got me an appointment. He got it pretty sharpish an’all. It was only a few days before I had them prodding and poking and taking x-ray photographs of me without my bra on into the bargain.
I didn’t understand it. I had always been in decent health. I had always looked after myself. Yes I enjoyed a few ciggies and a glass of sherry but who didn’t? I know that I had been feeling run down lately, but I was 81. That was understandable. Along with the belly ache and the diarrhoea, I wouldn’t have thought that was out of the ordinary, particularly as I liked to have a fish shop tea now and again. Although I hadn’t had one in a while. But that was only because I hadn’t been really hungry.
Any road, they told me that I would have to go into hospital for a bit while they did some more tests and see if they could sort me out. Told me to go home and pack my nightie and a few bits and pieces and wait for them to phone. It shouldn’t be long before they had a bed ready, they said.
So I did as I was told. I called in on April May on the way back, and told her all about it, and she helped me sort a little suitcase out. That was good of her because I was really tired. It had been a long day.
They rang the next morning and I went in. They had a bed ready for me on a ward with some other old girls, who looked the worse for wear. I remember wondering why they had put me in with that lot, because they looked properly ill. But by then I was beginning to realise that I wasn’t really all that good myself.
Its funny, but when you go into hospital, you sort of become ill because of where you are. Outside, its all focused on getting on with it and being well, ignoring aches and pains as best as you can. In hospital, its more about wallowing in it. Everyone wants to know about your aches and pains. You are your aches and pains. Before I knew where I was, I felt as badly as the other old lasses. And them doctors prodding and poking and dripping ruddy stuff into me didn’t help. After a while, they had to give me a little thing over my face to breathe through, and then they wired up my front bottom so I didn’t even have to get out of bed to have a wee.
It was nice of people to come around with their grapes and lucazade, but best of all was having April May there holding my hand, and talking softly about old times. She was 60 now. My little Shirley Temple, 60!
I remember one afternoon the Salvation Army or some ruddy lot came in and started singing Christmas Carols. What the Ruddy Hell they wanted to do that for the Lord alone knows. It was still summer. Or was it? I couldn’t keep track. It was hot enough any road. It was a good thing that they kept giving me water to drink.
It was all very confusing… Was April May my sister? Was she my daughter? Did it ruddy well matter? She was holding my hand, and that was nice. And they were singing “Once in Royal David’s City” or some such ruddy nonsense. And then she wasn’t holding my hand any more. She wasn’t even there any more. But My Mother was. And next to her was my sister Pearl.
“Hello Doris,” Mother said. “Welcome to the other side…”
A song from 1995 “You are Not Alone” by Michael Jackson. – Remember that…