I had to make a detour to reach Mother. There had been an accident and the police closed the road. It must have been nasty as the road was still closed several hours later when I came back. There was a fire engine there too.
The usual smell of air freshener met me as I buzzed to be let in. In some ways reaching Mother is like going into a prison. Without the razor wire. I am not allowed the codes, and can only move into one area before needing help to access the next. Not that anyone ever asks who I am.
Mother clutched me and said she had been worrying. Nothing new there. Mother could win Olympic gold in worrying. I kept calling her Mum, but she didn’t call me Isobel, so I doubt if she knew who I was. She was looking very summery in light weight pink and white check seersucker trousers I got her last year, with a mauve t shirt and mauve fleece. Her feet were in fleecy pink socks.
We went to her room. She needed the loo, so I took the tops off the hangers, folded them up and put them in the chest of drawers.
She wanted a drink and asked for hot chocolate. A good choice as she drained it immediately and did the same with the second cup I requested. I trimmed and cleaned her nails. She worked the lavender hand cream into her skin obediently. I sprayed us both with the new lavender eau de toilette I had bought her for Easter.
We started with Yeats, rolled on with Wordsworth and Masefield, pulled the stops out with Browning and Mother recited The Lord’s My Shepherd. Which reminds me, I must get her hymn book from Aunt.
She enjoyed Jenny Joseph’s Warning, beamed at The Listeners, and smiled happily at The Owl and the Pussycat.
I found a poem I hadn’t read before about an airman. I don’t remember the poet’s name, but he was born in 1922 and died in 1941. I am guessing he was a pilot with the RAF and died in the Second World War. Mother responded as if she knew it, with an appreciative aah.
She held my hand, squeezing it to the rhythm of the words, nodded and smiled. It was lovely to see her settled and happy.
Her eyelids started to droop, and I guessed she needed a break. At her flat, this is when I would have done the washing up, peeled vegetables, got on with things and given her space. It’s harder in a room.
I left her to get a drink of water, loitering in the lounge to give her time to nod off. On the way beck to her room, I heard her saying, “Have I done something wrong?” Another resident, still ambulant but whose mental confusion and turmoil make me realise that Mother could be much worse, was standing by Mother, wringing her hands and opening and closing her mouth.
I sat down again, and told Mother not to worry. Mother looked anxiously at Shirley and said, “Are you alright, dear? Do you need anything?”
Shirley’s eyes flitted constantly between Mother and me. Last time I was there she followed me and then showed me a folder of photographs, saying clearly, “Mother” and pointing at a picture of herself with her mother and her siblings. It would break your heart.
A carer came. It was time for tea. So I told Mother she was the best mum in the world, demanded a hug and a kiss, followed her and the carer to the dining room, returned to the ground floor, found someone to let me out, and drove, badly, back to the marina.
Not a picture of the visit, but somehow it feels appropriate.