Companioning Uncle Bob
I gave myself the job, the privilege it turned out,
of enabling my Uncle Bob
to spend his last few months at home.
Death was not new to me, but dying was.
I was no nurse, just a woman thankful
to this dear old man for giving me family
when I needed it.
He let me be his companion,
but never his slave, most offers of help refused.
With a deep sense of duty
he would wash, shave and dress
his 90 year-old body if it took him three hours to complete.
When his afternoons napped in a sunny chair
he’d be cross if I didn’t keep waking him.
And any suggestion he might stay in his bathrobe,
or maybe even in bed,
was met with perplexed disbelief.
When finally one day he did stay in bed,
the day after he couldn’t believe it
and battled fatigue to return
to his normal regime.
Come five o’clock though,
he wanted to go to his bed,
but no matter how hard he tried
he could not will himself to stand up.
To my relief my strong son came visiting,
scooped him up gently
and carried him off to his bed.
And there he stayed.
Next day as we sat with our cuppas
he suddenly asked would I fight on or give up.
‘If I were in your shoes I’d give up,’ I declared,
quite sure of my answer after watching for weeks.
‘But why?’ he asked.
‘Because life is too much of a struggle,’ I said.
‘It’s true there’s not much pleasure left,’
he said slowly– ‘I enjoy my cup of tea…
How would you give up?’ he then asked.
I would just lie down and wait for death
to come and take me away,’ I replied.
‘Is it comfortable?’ he asked.
‘You mean dying? Is dying comfortable? Oh I have no doubt;
in fact I think it’s much better than comfortable.
I think it’s like walking into the sunshine.’
There are things one says sometimes,
with complete conviction,
which simply turn up to be said.
From then on my uncle was mostly asleep.
Next day I sat with him, drinking a cuppa,
and although I looked and looked at his body in the bed
I could not see or feel my Uncle Bob.
That afternoon he took his last good breath,
and as far as I can know,
walked off into the sunshine.
To order copies of the CD “When Death Comes Close” please contact Sarah Williams:
email: firstname.lastname@example.org phone: 01373 300 433
mobile: 07788 677 608
or ask your local bookshop to order it: ISBN 978-0-9567149-0-9