Rita is eighty-two. She has end-stage COPD, but she’s well set-up at home with oxygen, a hospital bed, TV, wet room, stair lift, riser chair. Everything is well-ordered, plenty of room to manoeuvre. She lives with Sonia, her daughter, who seems a little frayed at the edges, but otherwise in good humour, coping with it all. The house has just been decorated, with feature walls, woven hearts, bundles of cracked willow in tall glass jars, and a stencil on the landing that says: Dance like no-one’s watching / Sing like no-one’s listening / Love like you’ve never been hurt before.
Rita has a DNAR. It’s at the front of her folder.
‘I don’t want no-one jumping up and down on me when I go,’ she says. ‘Not my chest, anyways.’
‘Mum!’ says Sonia, watching from the doorway. And then to us: ‘I’d say she’s not normally like this, but that’d be a lie.’
‘I suppose you want my top off?’ says Rita, pushing the duvet down and hauling up her nightie.
‘Hang on, Rita. Let’s do the rest of it first.’
‘You’re right. Best take it slow.’
‘Mum has just had one chest infection after another. This one seems to have gone on forever. And then she started to have pain up here when she breathed in.’
‘It’s not too bad,’ says Rita. ‘I don’t know what the fuss is about.’
‘You,’ says Sonia. ‘You’re the fuss.’
‘Am I? A nice fuss, I hope?’
‘Yeah. You’ll do.’
‘What about now?’ says Rita, hauling up her top again. ‘Ready for me now?’