Mother was on cracking form. Due to a signals delay I arrived later than planned. She was just polishing off her lunch. After a brief skirmish with the spoon, and when reassured she didn't have to share it, she got stuck into pudding too. I ate my own meal and watched. Things were quieter today than on my last visit. A lady who had needed help with her lunch last time was feeding herself. A middle aged son arrived to feed his mother.
We headed to Mother's bedroom. As usual after a meal she wanted to doze, so I let her be while I sorted out the chest of drawers, and decanted the pyjamas which had been wedged in with her tops to their own drawer. No sigh of her multi-coloured blanket which always makes me think of Joseph, but her tartan shawl was spread over her legs.
She opened her eyes and I showed her her birthday presents. She'll be ninety-three on Monday. She was quietly pleased. I left the card propped up for the carers to help her open. “Would you like me to read to you?” I asked. “Yes please,” she said.
So we started. Again John Masefield stirred her into a more upright position. She recognised it at once. “I must go…” I began. “Down to the fields again,” she continued. OK, so it's not what Masefield wrote, but it makes sense, especially for a country girl like Mother.
I got the full beam of her attention for The Listeners, and off we wandered through the anthology; Yeats, Rossetti, Wordsworth, and that wonderful one by the airman about flight. He died when he was nineteen and it amazes me every time that someone so young as he must have been could write something so perfect. I really must try to remember his name.
We were tumbling through some Milne when the activities organiser arrived. She has an astonishingly loud voice. With her was a volunteer. A young woman who will read to Mother. The activities organiser asked me for information about what Mother likes and interrupted me every time I tried to tell her. We got onto dogs. The activities organiser seemed surprised to learn that Mother adores dogs. I refrained from pointing out that all this information is in the notes on the wall. The young woman has dogs. She is willing to bring them in. Result.
Back to the poems Mother enjoys. “You like the psalms, don't you?” I said, and started on The Lord's My Shepherd. Mother joined in and carried on. For a bit of light relief, and in my case to prove the point, we did One, two buckle my shoe. I did the counting, Mother supplied the next lines. The activities organiser admitted she was very surprised. Mother has been there over a year. One of the carers who has now left could have told her. Maybe he did. Maybe she didn't listen. Maybe she didn't believe him. Maybe now she has seen with her own eyes, heard with her own ears, she will make sure Mother gets this stimulus.
A lovely carer is on the case of the missing Joseph blanket, a gluten free cake will be baked for Monday, Aunt will visit tomorrow, and the staff will be reminded not to apply lacquer to Mother's hair.
I am returning home with a much lighter heart than a few weeks ago.