Maggie looked around at her room. So this was to be her home for the foreseeable future. She took a deep breath and eased her ageing body into the recliner chair.

There was little difference in these surroundings to the room her grandson was so anxious to show her a few months earlier. He had gone up to university and for the first time in his life, he had a room of his own. It was in the old halls of residence. “More like living in a wardrobe,” she had thought at the time, “with not enough room to swing a cat!”

Now it was her turn.

Leaning her walking stick against the arm of the unfamiliar chair, it fell to the floor with a clatter. A reminder that the surface was wooden, solid and well polished with years of dragging stiff joints from bed to chair and back again.

The décor was institutionally bright, certainly not to her taste. Who ever decided that all women of a certain age like fussy floral floating drapes and bed covers? Maggie wondered if it were possible to have them changed? Waking to multicoloured floral sprigs that bore no resemblance to any flower that had passed through Maggie’s hands in almost fifty years of creating bridal bouquets and floral arrangements, was actually nerve jagging and insulting.

In fact there was little space to add trinkets in order to make the place ‘her own’! One book on the bedside table left little space for a glass of water. The angle poise light on the small table beside the recliner chair meant that the small bouquet of flowers that Stephen brought was now standing on the floor under the tall narrow window.

It was a reluctant move, the hospital suggested it, though deep down Maggie knew that living alone was no longer a proposition. Recent falls meant her bones were resembling jigsaw pieces and her confidence receded with each new break.

The irony was that all through her early life she was known as Maggie Allbones. She had been christened Margarett Gretchen Allbones, and family records include the marriage of William Allbone and Margarett Alett at St. Margaret Moses, on February 25th 1587. Now after decades of moving house across the country, the circle had closed and here she was at Allbone House, in St. Margaret Moses. A home for retired gentlewomen. Goodness, it sounded like her ancestor Margarett Alett might still be wandering the hallways.

Stephen, her only son, was not happy. She could tell. He said nothing, trying to hide his disappointment as he emptied her small case and hung the few clothes in the dolls house wardrobe. This bore no resemblance to the comfort of his mother’s own bedroom at home with the wide bay window complete with window seat. A wall of slide robes filled with clothes ordered by season.

He wanted to take his beloved mother to his home, but the single story extension would not be complete for another couple of months. Meantime a house with teenagers, their friends and belongings never mind the noise that masquerades as music these days, blaring at all hours, would drive her mad. Allbone House was the only place with a room available right now. With heavy hearts they both agreed to give it a try.

A knock on the door brought a young lady with a tray. “Staff Nurse thought you might like your lunch here in your room today as you settle in, you can meet the other ladies at tea this afternoon”!

Lifting the cover from her plate, a brown, congealing mess killed her appetite and made the last of her spirits die.

“It won’t work,” Stephen said, with an air of tearful finality, he hated seeing his mother reduced to this.

Maggie tried to stand up in order to comfort her son. The last thing she wanted was to be a nuisance to her family. The tray unbalanced her and she started to fall….

This time there was no getting up.

No more brown, congealing undistinguishable messes on a plate and no need for a single story extension.


When I am dead I will not care
How future generations fare,
For I will be so unaware.

Though fields their slain has carpeted,
And seas be salt with tears they shed,
Not one I’ll waste, for I’ll be dead.

Though atom bombs in ashes lay
Their skyey cities of to-day,
With carrion lips I cannot pray.

Though ruin reigns and madness raves,
And cowering men creep back in caves,
I cannot help to dig their graves.

Though fools for knowledge delve too deep,
And wake dark demons from their sleep,
I will not have the eyes to weep.

I will not care, I cannot care,
For I will be no longer there
To share their sorrow and despair.

And nevermore my heart will bleed
When on my brain the blind-worms feed,
For I’ll be dead, dead, DEAD indeed.

And when I rot and cease to be,
It matters not a jot to me
What may be man’s dark destiny.

Ah! there you have the hell of it,
As in the face of Fate I spit
I know she doesn’t mind a bit.

A thousand millions clot this earth,
And billions more await their birth –
For what? . . . Ye gods, enjoy your mirth!
~ Robert William Service

Day four of sunshine, blue skies and fluffy clouds should be warming my heart, but it is still very cold comfort with a bitter icy tinge to the air that can catch my breath as I turn a corner. Matching white patches still linger in my garden and on the hills in the distance. I almost feel I should apologise to Padmini for my gloomy post on her chosen topic Finality. Hopefully some of our active members will have a more cheerful take on the subject, so run along and check them out: Delirious, Maxi, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox, Padmum, Ramana, Shackman speaks, The Old Fossil, Will Knott.

16 thoughts on “Finality

  1. Rummuser

    Why apologise to Padmini. This is a beautiful depiction of a reality that all old people must face towards the end of their lives. I often say “I don’t care” just like RWS says when discussions on the future of our children crop up, particularly between my closest friend and me.

    I am glad that at least you have had four days of sunshine! It can only get better from now on.

  2. Celia

    Excellent post Grannymar. The tail of winter is a difficult time. I’m so grateful for the intermittent days of sunshine.

  3. Delirious

    You have reminded me of one of my weird passions that is collecting poems about death. In particular, I like poems written to the loved one left behind. I have several. 🙂

  4. Grannymar Post author

    Ramana – I didn’t set out to write a gloomy post, but this ‘ageing’ business has been in the back of my mind for a year or so and this was the time to put it to bed.

    shackman – Yes, it will come to all of us at some point. I just hope when my turn comes that it will be quick and easy for those I leave behind.

    Nelly – Thank you. I never want to be like the burden you have.

    Celia – The longer and brighter days do lift my heart.

    Delores – Maybe you will blog about them.

  5. Alice

    Neither did I think of it as all gloomy! Like Shackman said, we’ll all get there by and by. One of the strangest feelings I’ve had took place after the death of my father, and again when I lost my mother. Weird that I felt so grateful that they would never again feel pain, or suffer disappointments ever again. My mother was very afraid of what might happen when the year 2000 rolled around. I assured her she would be fine, but she couldn’t imagine more changes than she had already been through. She died mid-January, just 3 or 4 days from her 85th birthday. I was right. No catastrophe happened. When tragedy struck on 9/11/01 again I was happy my parents never had to see what bitterness and cruelty mankind was capable of. I think that especially explains why the poem resonated so with me.

  6. Grannymar Post author

    Alice – I know that feeling of relief that pain and suffering are over. Over the years I have watched loved ones and friends suffer in their final years, months, and days.

  7. Nelly

    My aged in-law can sometimes feel like a burden Grannymar but we’re all different. I don’t think you’d ever be like her. You are not a sourpuss!

  8. wisewebwoman

    Oh you have a great talent, GM, a wonderful story. I loved it, you caught the atmosphere and fear so well.

    Picky point – 1587 as the date of marriage?
    I didn’t find it gloomy at all, I loved how she manoevered her way out of it. 😀


  9. The Old Fossil

    I didn’t know it was gloomy until you told me! It doesn’t matter your beliefs, to be physical is to experience mortality. Whether you believe there is more or not beyond death is almost beside the point, for both beliefs given as absolutes are leaps of faith. What is right in front of us until the big exit comes is arguably the point regardless of which way you are betting on the dice roll after your passing.

  10. Grannymar Post author

    WWW – Having decided on a last name (Allbones) I went searching on a surname database and from there I ‘borrowed’ a family history. St. Margaret Moses won it for me. It is probably buried under St Albans, today!

    Fossie – I am a ‘here and now’ today person.

  11. Mitch Mitchell

    Very nice post, though I’ll admit I was kind of depressed at the end as well. But that’s how I view finality as well because that’s it, no more, and who wouldn’t love to stick around for at least twice as long as possible if they could be healthy while doing it? Rummuser’s correct, don’t apologize for it because the topic is what brought it out of you.

  12. Grannymar Post author

    Mitch – Welcome to my blog. It was only when I got to the end of the post, that I read it back and thought how gloomy it was. So long as I can be of use to others, then I am happy to stick around. After that…. the sooner it is over the better. My bags are packed and ready to go.


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