It was not a day for photography. Dull skies in London and driving rain on the walk from the station to Mother’s. She was in bed, a return of the problem with the sore on her sacrum. The carer told me she has been in bed for three days. I hope she is up soon or she will miss all the singing and festive jollity. She had a good appetite and ate her lunch. Afterwards she dozed. This is normal, but she kept dozing throughout the afternoon.

Once she woke properly and launched into a long monologue. I responded, appropriately it seemed as she was content with my answers. I read to her and her head nodded. When her eyes closed I stopped, but a visit from another resident woke her. I went back to reading, but choosing longer poems with steady rhythms that would allow her to listen and doze. It worked. She held my hand and squeezed it from time to time. When I started on The Listeners, she opened her eyes and smiled at me. Kissing her brow, I thought she was rather hot, but it was difficult to tell as the heating was up in the room. My guess is she is going down with a cold. I put on the CD of carols and Christmas music from the Chapel Royal that is part of her Christmas present and was rewarded with another smile.
Aunt is going to visit tomorrow and I shall email a senior member of staff and ask to be kept up to date with how she is.
The rain had stopped and my return walk to the station was dry with dramatic banks of clouds lit by the setting sun. The train on the branch line got in on time, and now I am heading back to Kings Cross then home and a quiet evening thinking about Mother.


23 thoughts on “Mother

    • She seemed comfortable and quite content. I realise that very time I leave her I am wondering if it will be the last time I see her alive. But despite her evident frailty – she looks like a tiny bird, a cliché I know but a true one – she seems to hold onto life.

  1. I think it’s wonderful that your mother still responds and appreciates your poetry reading, Isobel. You make a difference with every visit. I hope her back problem clears up and that she is encouraged to move when she can.

  2. How lovingly tender your reading to her sounds. And, how gratefully she responds: she very much appreciates your reading and what you actually read!
    I hope she is fully recovered soon from her sore sacrum and gets ready for the festive singing and celebrating

    • I was just talking to Aunt who fears Mother is chesty. If she has a chest infection I don’t want her pumped full of antibiotics. But Aunt told me a powerful story. She said she remembers seeing Mother off to Belfast on the bus when she was teenager, setting off to make her way in the world. Mother said, “No one cares about me, no one cares what becomes of me.” I want Mother to know that she is cared for, we do care what becomes of her, and I think, dementia or no, she does.

    • Thanks Pseu, Yes I believe she does. Did you hear the programme on Radio 4 this week about care for those with dementia in the Netherlands? Fascinating. I have been reading more about how poetry calms people with this condition. I don’t understand why something that has been recognised is more widely known. I stumbled upon it by chance with Mother, it would have been nice to have a signpost. I am happy I have been able to suggest it to others, and know of two families who have found it helpful.

      • I haven’t heard the programme on r4… I think I heard a trailer for it though, I have suggested old songs for my aunt, as she’s not engaged by poetry. She has been singing in her new residential home, where they seem to have a better understanding of care for those with dementia.

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