Christmas Visit

It has been a mild day, but all the same, fifteen minutes sitting on a metal bench at Cambridge ststion was more than enough. I was very happy to board the next train.
I have spent the day East seeing Mother.
She was asleep when I arrived, and when she woke was confused and disorientated. A clergyman came to see her. He seemed to feel I was more in need of blessing than Mother. Maybe he was right.
I took the opportunity to discuss funerals with him. My recent experience when my friend Alison died has made me aware how short a time one has at the crematorium. It turns out there is a chapel we can use very close to the home. This was good news.
This sounds crazy, but I really hope this will be Mother’s last Christmas. I don’t want her to die, yet I do. To see her further diminished would be heart breaking.
I had the end of life meeting with a nurse. The things we do and do not want. I signed. She witnessed. This feels better.
Mother ate a good lunch and nearly licked the pudding dish. She drank quantities of cranberry juice.
When I had finished the talking and signing we want back to poetry.
Brilliant. There is no other word for it. Yeats, Larkin, De La Mare, Masefield, Wordsworth, Roaetti. The old favouritea. And Jenny wotsit’s Warning.
Mother held my hand and tapped the rhythms. We sighed. We laughed. We kissed and rubbed noses.
It was lovely. Precious. Special.
I came home on the train with my heart lighter than it has been for weeks.
Aunt is visiting on Christmas Eve with Morher’s close and loyal friend. Nephew is visiting with a Labrador on Christmas Day.


14 thoughts on “Christmas Visit

  1. I’m so pleased the poetry reading went down so well. (Are you on facebook? The poetry society page has some interesting poems read by the poets.)

    I know what you mean aobut not wanting to see her deteriorate further. This is a heartbreaking scenario.

  2. No I am not on Facebook or likely to be. The whole poetry stuff is amazing. I should love to do the Reader Organisation training if I had the time.
    There is no wifi at the home. I. bought Mother the BBC anthologies a couple of years ago and they are our main sources. She also loves the Bible and favourite hymns. The problem is still getting other people to read to her.
    It is such a simple but powerful thing to do.

  3. Wonderful, Isobel, that after the initial disorientation, you were able to feel so close to your mother and enjoy the poetry together.

    I’m glad you seem all set up for Christmas. 😉

  4. I’m so glad that you had such a special time with your Mum, and I don’t think that you sound crazy. I think you sound like a lot of relatives who’ve sat beside somebody at Christmas and not been able to see things getting better for somebody they love.

  5. I agree with sophiescott, Isobel. I feel the same way about my Mom, except she is quite aware that she is waiting around to die. Filling her days until the end. I get to see her about once a week, which will be something I will have to hold onto after she dies. (Thank you to the Gods of Unemployment!)

  6. Thanks for your kind wishes.
    This is the best visit I have had with Mother since she moved into the home. There are still issues to deal with, but at last I feel we are getting there.
    Poetry, I believe, taps into something deeper than memory, deeper than the words themselves. The cadences and rhythms are like music. Mother always enjoyed poetry, and I know some of the ones I read are poems she knows. But we also venture into uncharted territories and she responds to those too.
    I hope that should I ever reach her age, reading will be a generally accepted and practised part of everyday care.

    • Thanks Ruth. Have you heard of the Reader Organisation? There’s a link on my page to A Little Aloud.
      It’s such a simple and effective thing to do. Before Mother moved to the nursing home, I read to her a lot. On one occasion, I had five old ladies, all with dementia in varying degrees, sitting round me.

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