Marian was highly specialist and she didn’t take on many clients. She had no need to advertise her services, relying instead on word of mouth. The people who needed her most would find her, somehow. Her fees were prohibitively high, which was intentional. That way she could make sure the poor but deserving were paid for by the ones who would miss the money the least.
I wish we could have used her for Mother, but her name reached us just too late. By then Mother had already gone. I watched, all the way through. I couldn’t do anything to help her but I could give her my time and pretend I didn’t notice as her skin greyed and face grew more gaunt daily and tell her that Chanel Fire red lipstick made her look healthy, not deathly.
I didn’t have the courage to do what Marian does and what Mother needed. At the end, all I could do was watch. I was no help. Marian would have helped. When it was Father’s turn, we already knew of Marian and he himself requested we ask her to be with him.
She reminded me of Mary Poppins, without the umbrella. I’m not sure what I expected, something more grotesque I suppose. Someone who looks like they specialize in ‘end of life’, but what would that look like? At least dressed in black perhaps, not sunny shirt and jeans, with silver pumps and a swingy ponytail. I think the ponytail was the most disconcerting of all.
By the time she arrived with us he had taken to his bed and declared himself ready to go. I’m not sure he was ill enough to die for some time, not really, and I told him that. Marian disagreed with me. She said it was his time. I’d thought we would have at least a while longer together whilst Marian made Father comfortable and we could say goodbye over a few days.
But she helped me realize it was his time because he had chosen it to be so, that it was his right to do that and that by asking him to stay longer I was being unfair to him, inhuman almost. He wanted to go before he got too much like Mother. And he was ready to be with her.
She asked me to leave whilst she did it but then allowed me back in to be with him whilst he slipped away, then she sat quietly in the corner of the room. I took his hand and I felt his strong grip gradually weaken. His breathing shallowed, slowed and stopped but he was smiling and looked peaceful.
Her ponytail swung gently as she cleaned him and then called for the doctor.