Our account of Jac’s illness — part two

Towards the end of our ‘Yorkshire’ sister’s last visit to Wales on that May bank holiday, Jac was experiencing considerable pain — it would later become apparent that her disease, which had spread to her liver, was the reason for this distress but we didn’t realise it at the time.

She had a hospital appointment, booked for Wednesday, at the outpatients’ clinic. Instead, they kept her in for observation although she had taken absolutely nothing at all with her in the way of necessities; and she told us — after this change of plan — that she would be staying in, but only overnight.

In fact, with ‘observations’, meeting with her consultant, waiting for the results of tests, and the ‘week-end’ those last days slipped quickly by; at least we knew that she was able to rest and to be properly cared for in a safe environment free from the continual harassment to which she had been subjected at home…

Each day that she was in the hospital her sisters spoke with her, generally in the late or early hours as we are a family of ‘night owls’ and she was quiet then without the noise of the hospital routine, and visitors had left.

She kept us informed of the conversations she had had with her consultant and as (in one case) she expected to be ‘discussing some test results with him on Monday’ she would stay there ‘over the week-end, and rest — it seems a good idea’. We were all so certain that Jac would soon be home, and it was only in those last two days that unknown to us things took such a turn for the worse.

As one of Jac’s sisters lives in Suffolk and has three young children and as another sister lives in Yorkshire and had teaching commitments (she had, in any event, just left Jac’s home on Sunday night) they were not there that Tuesday. Her ‘Welsh’ sister having had cataract surgery within only days was not allowed to drive and living in ‘the sticks’ was not able to get a lift — the hospital was over an hour away — although she planned to go in on Wednesday when her son, who had been away, would take her in. We are now speaking of the day before Jac died. We had no sense of urgency from our many phone calls, indeed her ‘Yorkshire’ sister had said in their last conversation on the evening of that day ‘I’ll ring you tomorrow lunch-time, and I’ll see you at the week-end’ (as she planned to come back to Wales by then) and Jac herself had telephoned her daughter on that Tuesday afternoon.

On the 30th of July a comment was posted by someone calling themselves ‘Melangell’ on The Guardian thread following Sir Andrew Motion’s review of West, 24/07/2010, which read: ‘When I visited Jacquetta in hospital within twenty-four hours of her death, none of her family were there…’

This we can swear was quite untrue. Apart from the family members we mentioned above, one of her sons was also away, teaching in the north — and her second son was out of the country. But of the remaining ‘blood-tied ones’, (‘neglecting’ as Jim Perrin wrote: ref. West, page 6) two of her sisters and her daughter had spoken with her by telephone hours before she died and one sister certainly was there, with Jac, for over five hours until her last moment; and her daughter — with her boyfriend — as we have explained previously was also able to arrive before her mother died and was there for her, with all her love, at the end of her life.

It is surely evident that the person who posted the comment which we quoted above was ill-informed, that they were ill-intentioned and that it was a spiteful jibe. That ‘person’ was ‘Melangell’ whom we have always believed was one of the personas Jim Perrin has created over the years and has used anonymously to spout his vile accusations…

Jac’s sisters.