I often talk about you with people about how you basically gave Dad such a lease of life in his last years How you helped us all get through the eleven years of what it was like loving, caring and trying to help a triple amputee. I’ve sought you out for ages. You were a Godsend to him and to us. Mum’s a bit jealous still of the banter you had with Dad because she’s a devout Christian and doesn’t realise there was no harm in it, but she knows. Deep down she knows.
She found me on Facebook.
And here is her testament to her mother, who turned 80 a few days ago:
(And I don;t think she mentions the car accident)
Forgive me if I don’t reply to phone calls or text messages today, I’m not even speaking to Editors today. I have a very special person in my life to spend the day spoiling. I’m having a complete day off from everything and everyone except her. Her name is Marilyn Fountaine who has reached the ripe old age of EIGHTY today against all the odds. She is my mother.
This is a woman who has been told over and over again on separate occasions that she only has months and sometimes only weeks to live. She has defied every doctor who has ever treated her and she is considered to be a miracle of modern science. She has survived TERMINAL cancer twice (I say terminal because on both occasions they gave her a specific time frame and told her she could not be cured), she has survived not one but two aortic aneurisms (that’s when the main blood vessel to the heart ruptures), it’s a miracle to survive one, but she has had two. She has also had multiple heart operations since as offshoots of the aneurisms, all at potentially great risk. On another occasion she fell downstairs and broke her neck and endured having an iron cage drilled into the side of her head and her collarbone to keep her spine in place for 8 months to prevent her being paralysed and miraculously is NOT paralysed. Indeed she walked around with it on her head with tinsel wrapped around it at Christmas time so as not to scare little children incase they thought she was ”the bride of Frankenstein” (her words)! And then last year she recovered from a severe stroke.
On top of all this she spent the last 11 years of my father’s life (he died in 2006) being a devoted wife to a triple amputee confined to a wheel chair who was no longer able to feed himself, and was completely incontinent both ways for that period. She cleaned him up, she lifted him up with the hoist with a carer and washed him, fed and clothed him. She wheeled him around the garden so he could take pleasure in the birdlife, which he took great joy in. It’s amazing when you’re in such a situation and there is so little of life to enjoy because you have completely lost your independence, how simply sitting in ones garden and gazing at the natural world can be such food for the soul. It was for him, anyway.
Throughout all of this she never complained and has managed to continue designing, making and selling jewellery, a business woman thoughout, a business she has had for over 50 years. She shows no signs of slowing down or of ever retiring. I could have written this on ”International Woman’s Day” but I felt this was doing my mother an enormous injustice because she is an inspiration every day of the year and I try to honour her as such. To have reached this milestone day is, just that, a milestone and we are off to Cambridge to celebrate in style. I will reply to all phone calls and texts tomorrow. She is getting my absolute and undivided attention today.