I Must Go Down to the Fields Again

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 sign 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.

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19 thoughts on “I Must Go Down to the Fields Again

    • Thanks Maria. Yes it was. The carers are generally very good. The activities organiser seems good at doing the group things like organising a film, and the dreaded Bingo, none of which Mother can join in with even if she wanted to, but less good at the one to one stuff. It’s all hand massages and nail painting so far as I can see.

  1. I think you mean High Flight by John Gillespie Magee. It is totally wonderful, and one of my favourite poems even though it makes me want to cry everytime I read it. I believe He wrote it and sent it to his parents just weeks before he died in the war. So sad.
    I’m so glad your mother seemed so much better this time, and that you enjoyed your visit. 93 is a wonderul age for both her and your aunt to have reached!
    I hope the girl does take her dogs in – it will do your mother the world of good!

    • That’s the one Lorely. It is a stunningly good poem. I am glad his parents at least had that comfort. He seems to have loved flying.
      Aunt isn’t quite that age yet. She’s the second to youngest and will be a mere ninety in April. Other Aunt is also an April baby and must be eighty six or so now. Mother’s adored and only surviving brother is ninety two and still driving, and keeps an eye on Other Aunt as they are both in Belfast.
      Mum will be so happy if she has visits from a friendly dog, preferably a large one. There was a woman who came to the scheme with a German Shepherd. When it lifted its aristocratic nose and licked Mother’s face she lit up like a Christmas tree.
      I still want someone to open a care home with a donkey sanctuary. It’d be brilliant.

  2. it is really adorable how old people are, they are just like young kids need love and care
    i hope your mom lives for ever, but something just popped up to my mind, and if you know me, you will know that i will explode if i dont say it
    once we my friends and i were talking about what age we think we will die, my friend said she will die at age of 100 like many of her family, but i said i love to die at my 35, at that age i will be at my full strength, and just a year later it will start to fall apart, and i dont want any one to take care of me, am not hopeless, but i just love to die strong and at that age i could have accomplished all my dreams, i also prefer to die while doing something good to the society and humanity, this way people may remember me and god may throw me directly to heaven, it is not me to decide, but i hope God will do it.
    just shared my thought, hope you didnt get bored

    • Not at all. I should like a death like Robin Cook’s, a British politician. He was out walking with friends somewhere remote and beautiful. He had a heart attack and died before they could get him to hospital.
      As for my mother, I hope she doesn’t live for ever. If she were to die in her sleep tonight I would know she had had an enjoyable last day. I would miss her and be sad, but in many ways I do not feel that the life she is living now is what she would have wanted. In fact I am sure she would have been horrified ten years ago had she been able to see into the future.

      • i totally agree, i think our dead people will be having a happy after life, but we have the right to cry because we will miss them,

  3. A lighter heart for you Isobel, I like that. And your Mother seemed so engaged during this visit. You have to be feeling a sweet relief. High Flight. CH has a plaque with that poem given to him when he was promoted to Lt. Colonel. I don’t think a day goes by that we don’t glance at that poem. It makes me teary still. I hope the missing Joseph blanket shows up and a dog too!

    • How wonderful. You know, that is a poem I only discovered when I started reading poetry to my mother. It blew me away that it was written by someone in their teens. Now, thanks to Lorely, I know more of the story. And the next time I read it I’ll probably think of you and CH too.

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