Thursday 19th March 1992 Morning surgery 09:50
Mrs Charles’ daughter and son-in-law wheeled her into the consulting room. My dad looked surprised. She was almost completely covered by a white, cotton sheet. All we could see were two purple feet.
“Why is she covered up?” My Dad asked.
“We think she’s dead,” Marian Moffat whispered. “We didn’t want to upset anyone in the waiting room.”
“Yes, we think so.”
“She has not been so well since her birthday in January. She is 93 now! She’s been tired and sleeping a lot. She’s been off her food.”
“Mmm . . .” my Dad rubbed his chin.
“This weekend, she was very poorly. She stayed in bed. She didn’t eat a thing for 2 days: she said she felt sick. She . . .”
“She’s been drinking enough, though.” Maldwyn Moffat interrupted. “She still loves her cup of tea.”
“Yes,” Marion Moffat continued. “Maldwyn makes the tea exactly how she likes it. Then, yesterday, she seemed better. She got up. She wanted to come to the supermarket with me but I didn’t think it was a good idea.”
“She seemed fine again this morning.”
“She woke up early, came down and ate her breakfast. She had a look through the local paper. She dozed off.”
“She was sleeping peacefully,” said Maldwyn Moffat. “I made myself another cup of coffee and was going to read the paper when she stopped breathing. She groaned and then just stopped breathing. I called Marion immediately.”
“We were going to ring for an ambulance but I knew she didn’t want to go to hospital. I didn’t know what to do.” Marian Moffat’s was breathing quickly as she spoke. “Maldwyn just picked her up and we brought her straight here.”
“There’s nothing of her. She’s as light as a feather.”
“Well, we better have a look at her.” Dad carefully lifted the sheet. Mrs Charles’ head was slumped down onto her chest. Her face was blue. A trickle of saliva dribbled from the corner of her mouth.
“Mrs Charles!” My Dad called her name. There was no response. He shook her shoulder; nothing. He asked me to check her pulse. I couldn’t feel it. Her hands were stone cold.
“She is dead, I’m afraid.”
Marian Moffat sobbed. Maldwyn put his arm around her shoulders.
“Do you think I should have tried to resuscitate her?” asked Marian, wiping her eyes. “I’ve been on a course.”
“Would she have wanted that?”
“I don’t think so. She didn’t like anything technical. She wouldn’t even watch Casualty.”
“She died comfortably at home,” my Dad said. “I am sure that’s what she would have chosen.”
Marian and Maldwyn Moffat nodded in agreement. “What should we do, now?”
“I think that the best thing to do is take her back home and pop her into bed. I’ll ring the undertaker and explain everything. They can pick her up when you’re ready.”