After she had ordered Will to go (and he obeyed her as always) Joe sat down by her after asking her permission, and she said “That’s ok”, and then “You do … understand … what’s happening?” and Joe corrected her to “what might happen.” After that what she said was “Tell Will… I love him … so much” and “Not brave” and “I’m so sorry,” (might have been some other word starting with s, possibly sore) “Joe” followed by “I’m not … going … to better place” and “It’s … so bad” (I am absolutely certain the words before “so bad” was “It’s” not “I’m”: it had a t in it) and “So sorry” (again, possibly “sore”) “… so wrong” and “so… so… so… it’s” followed by some incomprehensible hissing noises while Joe was leaning over her because he couldn’t hear her properly (at which point Joe said, “No, no, no, you’re mixed up, it’s the medicine they’re giving you, you’re all muddled”) and then she gave a gasp and the beeper started.
That was all that was audible from Nic after Will did as he was told and went away. I cannot interpret any of it as a confession of anything.
I mention this because I want it on record that when they later have Joe revealing something or other terrifically important as her final words, I don’t believe a word of it.
The trouble is that even while Joe was leaning over her we could hear that she was making hissing and stuttering noises, but none was coherent. If we couldn’t hear words, it seems so unlikely that Joe would have been able to.
If we imagine ourselves as the listener being further away from Nic than Joe was, as he had his ear right up close to her, then he could have heard what we didn’t. I think that was what they were trying to convey because I can’t offer any other explanation for his saying she was muddled because of the medicine they were giving her. He does seem to have heard something that shocked him.
My impressions were that she knew she was dying, & was, not surprisingly, terrified
I feel that she got will to go to the child because he wouldn’t be able to cope with a deathbed scene, still insisting, as many in similar situations do, that everything is going to be alright
What I have had difficulty with has been her suddenly, or so it seemed to me, to be so keen on Church, & running Junior Church. I may have missed several episodes around this time, but it didn’t quite ring true
Is this why she didn’t think that she would be going to a ‘better place’, because she didn’t believe at all ?
I think George’s religious phase was set off by Nic doing Sunday School, and I remember that Emma was very angry about it: how dare she take him to church without getting her permission!
Her church-going started with Nic helping Clarrie do the flowers, as far as I remember, and Emma turning up in case Nic was stealing a march on her with her mother-in-law. Nic was good at it and Emma wasn’t, which put Emma out. And the “come and help with the flowers” stemmed from Nic bothering to help Clarrie when she had a broken arm, and Emma steering clear until the plaster came off and only then volunteering, about which Clarrie was ungrateful at her.
Or perhaps just that she thought it would be better to stay in Ambridge with the husband and children she loved? It might be nothing at all about her view of heaven or otherwise, just a mundane consideration like that.
I still think that it was typical of her that her last words to Will were an order to do something he didn’t want to do, and he obeyed her against his better judgement. As usual.
It were a right bugger’s muddle, who was where when. But they obviously needed to have Joe present to ‘hear’ - well - something. I shall be most disappointed if that turns out to be another loose herring.