Four years in, and possibly because of a few too many changes of staff, or her friends in the home passing one at a time - I don't really know the reason - she grew increasingly listless and it became clear that she was rapidly declining. So I took her out of the nursing home and brought her to live with me and I've been caring for her since April 2007. One of the advantages of working from home.
Although extremely limited both in movement and communication and with fast fading eyesight, her spirits remained high right up to the end - never complaining and always ready with a smile that would light up the room. One of the very few phrases she'd usually be able to articulate was "thank you" and she made good use of it. Her generosity of character has given me such inspiration throughout my life.
I'm rationalising now that if I were given the option of another 8 years with her when she was lying in that hospital bed in 2003, I'd have snapped it up; so I have to be satisfied with how things turned out.
And I feel enormously privileged that I happened to be the most important man in her life for the last 20 years. She's been the most important person in mine for a lot longer.
Anyways, that's more than enough self-indulgence for now. Thanks for reading; I'm grateful for the opportunity to unburden these thoughts here at my favourite online hangout.