1947. The streets of Lytham, a small market town near Blackpool, are thronged with people trying to catch sight of a young bride. The guests have already arrived, amongst them a famous American jazz singer, Turner Layton. A friend of the bride’s parents, he is well on the way to selling almost ten million records, including As Time Goes By. At last, she appears, happy, radiant,beautiful, her father at her side. My mum.
She died on July 9th, 85 years old.Dementia robbed her of the peaceful, dignified end that she so richly deserved. She was so frightened. But my sister and I held her hand until her last breath had passed. I didn’t think I would ever write about her death in a blog. She wouldn’t have approved. But I just want to record that the ward that she died in at Blackpool Victoria Hospital was so wonderful, so different to what we were expecting, it took my breath away. A young healthcare assistant- she was probably less than 20- sang to my mum, held her hand, wiped her tears and comforted her as best she could. A young woman, a quarter of my mum’s age, took the trouble to download some songs that she thought my mum would like (from the Sound of Music) and sang to her all day. Such compassion. Such love. Astonishing. Our NHS. It can still shine. Turner Layton would have approved.