Wednesday February 22nd

Surprisingly, Mum was dressed and downstairs when we arrived and happily agreed to go out for lunch! We were a little hesitant about trying to get her in the car as she is still not weight bearing very well and now has a dressing on her bad ankle – presumably a pressure sore. With the aid of the girls we managed to get her in the wheelchair and take her out to the car where we struggled to get her in but finally managed it. We drove down to the Red Hart and managed  to seat her in her wheelchair on the rubber cushion (in case of accidents!). Sadly however on trying the door, the Red Hart was closed and we couldn’t find any one to open the door! So, we man handled her back into the car and drove over to the Boot where we all had a lovely meal. She was doing very well and had nearly finished her Bailey’s brulee when she suddenly started grimacing and doubling up as if she was in pain. I asked her if she was OK and she said she felt unwell. I asked her if she needed the loo to which she said yes but not immediately. Sadly, it was too late as she had already wet herself. Thankfully she was still in her wheelchair on the rubber cushion!  We managed to get her to the disabled loo and somehow managed to sit her on it. Robert ran back to the car to fetch the spare padded disposeable knickers we keep there and I managed to undress her and put them on. I washed her trousers and dried them as best I could and we all somehow managed to get back in the car and back home where I changed her again.
  Next time I will take a whole change of clothing with us! Once back in her room she had a small glass of port and we all did the crossword before losing her back to her imaginary friends at 4 00pm on the dot!
‘Where is everyone?’ she asked.  ‘well we three are all here’ Robert replied. ‘That means we are only half here’ said Mum  to which Robert cheekily replied ‘ I think you are only half here.’  ‘ You cheeky sod!’ Mum replied and broke into peels of laughter!
It is getting harder to take her out now she has so little strength in her legs and a reluctance to weight bear,  not to mention her incontinence but she clearly had a good time and really enjoyed her cottage pie with cheesy mash, not to mention her Bailey’s brulee. I guess we will just have to be better prepared next time and make sure she stays in her rubber cushioned wheelchair with a clean change of clothes at the ready!

Wednesday 15th February

We left Northampton on a lovely spring morning with both cats sunbathing on the top patio, arrived at Mum’s just as it started to drizzle and left in torrential rain.

Mum was not in the best of moods! She was sitting in a new chair, both of her old ones having been removed and she also had a new electronic bed. I complemented her on her hair which had been permed ‘ no it hasn’t’ and asked if she was alright ‘ stop talking about my health.’  She denied that she was sitting in a new chair and told me that it was a bed. Her mood did not improve! She did engage in some conversation with us but most of her comments were to and from two other people sitting to her left.

Here are some extracts from her conversations;

‘Jude and Nick are now in Australia – I don’t know why they want to live there. He is dragging canals and she is going to help. It is such an awful place. If they ever come back here I will fling my book at them. Australia is a very cruel place.’ When asked why she replied ‘ don’t you know about the crocodile pits?’  When prompted further she told us that they throw people into them. I told her I had never heard of such a thing to which she replied ‘ well it happened to me – I was bitten by a crocodile.’ I told her that I did not think that she had and she became very cross, staring at me and asking me if I was accusing her of lying. ‘ you think you are clever Angela, but you are just a silly arse! It always amazes me how daft you are.’ She continued in this vane telling the person next to her that all her children are horrible and if she had her time again she wouldn’t have any !  Things went from bad to worse and she then accused us all of stealing all of her money. That Judith had stolen from her and was a two faced little bitch! She said that she now had two houses and wouldn’t tell me where either of them were. She also told  her ‘friend’ that she wanted to kill them all with a knife!

After listening to this tirade for quite a while, I asked her why she was in such a bad mood and had she got out of the wrong side of bed this morning to which she replied’ I can only get out of one side as the bed is against the wall!’  She then started laughing. I offered her a glass of sherry and her mood changed miraculously!

Her lunch arrived – a lovely looking plate of roast beef, Yorkshire pud , roast potatos and veg. Robert and I were very envious having put ourselves into self imposed misery for the whole of February by going meat and alcohol free!!  I fed her her lunch as she now has great difficulty holding cutlery and gave her a small glass of whiskey to finish.

After lunch she chatted away to us and others telling us she was going to the cinema with her husband tonight in Rubery. She hoped they could get a good seat but didn’t really care what she was going to see. She then told her friend that her husband Howard and she had split up many years ago. He had become far too finnicky for her and never took her out. He was now happily married to a rather ugly lady  and had 8 rather ugly daughters!  ‘ I know I really shouldn’t say that as they are probably all really lovely girls but they are ugly!’ She went on to say that Howard and his new wife run a private school and he teaches 2000 girls . ‘The school apparently has  a very good reputation. They take all the girls on holiday for a week every year’.

She continued chatting away and then suddenly asked me what had happened to the tall man I used to bring with me who used to love pushing her round in her wheel chair! ‘He’s over there!’ I replied ‘ oh of course he is – that’s Robert isn’t it?’

I asked her if she would like to watch Father Brown on the TV – ‘ I don’t understand that programme’ she replied ‘ hasn’t it got that boy in it you went to school with?’ and yes it has! Continue reading

Thursday 9th February

Wow! What a difference 4 days makes!  It was very cold today so we were not expecting to take Mum out so dropped into the pub on the way for a light lunch. We are now both 9 days into our non alcohol, meat free February so both chose a very good veggie option and drank diet coke!  The landlady made a great fuss of us and gave us a portion of crème brulee to take over for Mum – she really is a sweetie!

Mum was up, dressed , sitting in her chair and wide awake when we arrived. I reminded her of my visit on Sunday and the fact that she had told me not to come back and she laughed. ‘ we all have our off days when our brains aren’t working so well.’

I managed to get her to do her chair exercises which she did in double time and then we all sat down and did some quizzes from my new pub quiz book. She managed to do a few of the easier questions but was not very good on history or geography. However she appeared to enjoy the challenge and kept her mind on the subject only chatting to herself momentarily. She enjoyed a glass of port and a little fairy cake I had baked for her and downed her crème brulee in double quick time. It was great to see such a welcome difference to the lady I had met last Sunday!

2 of her carers popped  in and we all had a laugh together. We stayed for just over 2 hours and were just about to leave when she announced that both her Mum and Dad had died yesterday and that their funerals would be on Monday morning. She was a bit cross that they could not both be at the same time as they had both died on the same day but thought it was something to do with the law that could not be changed. She was not upset by her news and we were easily able to change the subject.

Interestingly she had no recollection at all of her other visitor  who had been to see her earlier on in the day. Memory is a very strange thing!


Sunday 5th February

Thinking that Mum might be missing Jude this week now that she has flown off to warmer climes – she and Nick have found and had their offer accepted on a lovely new home in Tasmania, I decided to drive over to see if Mum was OK.

I baked her some little fairy cakes yesterday and purchased some new knickers as she seemed to have run out on our last visit.

Sadly, she was still in bed when I arrived at 13 00 and was fast asleep, her mouth wide open and snoring loudly. I decided not to disturb her initially so sat by her bed reading the Sunday papers until one of the carers came in with her lunch. She acknowledged my presence but waved her lunch away saying she was too tired and promptly fell back to sleep again. I sat with her whilst she dozed waking her occasionally to see if she wanted anything. She woke for a few minutes, in time to down a small glass of sherry and have a short conversation. I told her about Jude’s new house which is near the sea. She suggested that Jude take her husband down to the sea and drown him! She then fell back to sleep.

After 2 hours I tried to wake her again but she told me to go away and not to come back! adding ‘ tell Robert to come next time!’  Charming!  I left her sleeping, hoping that she was enjoying her dreams and would be more responsive next time I visited. Continue reading

Wednesday February 1st

The Worcestershire countryside was bathed with sunshine as we left dreary, dull and drizzling weather behind us in Northamptonshire. Mum was still in bed and had just finished her lunch when we arrived. I scolded her for still being in bed but she was adamant that it was the best place to be. She initially looked surprised to see us and said that she thought we were still away. I explained that we had flown back on Saturday and gave her a brief synopsis of our really rather lovely holiday sailing around the British Virgin Islands knowing that Robert had bought his laptop to show her all our photos later. Rather surprisingly she also asked us if Jude had arrived in Australia yet and we were able to tell her that she had arrived safely and was now in Ballarat in Victoria. Robert and I had agreed not to mention Jude’s departure unless she brought it up in case it was too upsetting or that she had already forgotten that she had gone.

She stayed in bed and we chatted about our holiday and my new venture – I joined a choir last night called the Whilton Warblers which Mum said made her think of carpets. I used to sing in the school nd church choir many moons ago and have always promised myself I would try to sing again one day but had never got round to it.

I then produced the quiz book I had bought and we all proceeded to do one of the general knowledge quizzes in it. Mum was able to answer a few of the questions but her poor memory let her down on most of the questions. However, I think she enjoyed doing it. Afterwards , Robert sat down with her and showed her all his photos of our holiday. Mum appeared interested and was particularly interested in the photo of Necker Island where president Obama was allegedly staying. She laughed that we had not been invited in for tea.

Mum looked tired and pale but did not mutter to herself or any one else! However she suddenly started to cry out with pain but could not tell us where the pain was. I have seen her do this before and recognised that she wanted to use the commode. I knew I couldn’t manage her by myself so rang for one of the carers who appeared within minutes. Unfortunately Mum had wet her the bedding and her nightie and it took all our strength to get her out of bed and onto the commode where we undressed and cleaned her up. Her mobility now is really very poor and she can hardly stand for any length of time at all even with assistance.

Once she was clean and changed we popped her into her chair nearly dropping her on the floor as we did so. It is so hard to see her in such a sorry state. She drifted off to sleep in the chair almost immediately and we said our goodbyes.

Wednesday 18th January

A dull, dreary, dismal, damp day. Robert drove Jude and I over and our expectations that Mum would still be in bed were not exceeded. We arrived at around 12 30pm and Mum was lying on the edge of the bed propped up with pillows. She told us that she had a cold and had decided to stay in bed for the day. We gave her a small glass of whiskey with dry ginger and I gave her the new fleece jacket I had bought her in the M&S sale. We chatted to her about our week and that we had come a close third in the golf club quiz and second in our local pub quiz. We tried some of the questions out on her and asked her if she would like me to bring our quiz book next week to help her exercise her brain – she laughed and said that she could no longer exercise her body.

We all then completed the daily crossword before Mum’s lunch of roast beef with all the trimmings arrived. She insisted on eating it in bed so I cut up all the meat for her and balanced it on a towel  on her chest. She ate most of her lunch and all of the chocolate cheesecake that followed. We then all chatted away about our forthcoming holidays – we are off to the Virgin Islands tomorrow and have a cruise booked to the Norwegian fiords in July. Mum remembered fondly her trip to  Norway back in 1968 with Auntie Doris and Uncle Gar and we recalled how we had stayed with our grandparents and that Robert Kennedy had been killed the same week.

After about 2 1/2 hours Mum started talking to someone in a quiet hushed voice and was telling them how a lady in Droitwich had been spreading awful rumours about her father and that she was going to sue her. When I asked her about this she told me that this lady had been telling people that her father had interfered with her as a child. I said that that was awful and she then gave Robert a very meaningful stare and accused him of saying the same thing in the pub! We all reassured her that Robert would never do such a thing and she seemed to settle down. ‘you would sue someone if they said it about your father’ she said and I agreed and told her that as long as she knows it is not true that that is all that matters. She seemed happy with this and we quickly changed the subject and gave her a glass of port.

She then became very tired and as we had to go out early this evening in fancy dress costume we left at around 3 30pm to try and beat the traffic, reminding her that we would be away next week but that Jude would drive over and see her at the weekend.

Jude and I drove over to see Mum this morning. It was fairly miserable weather and rained most of the way there and back. Mum was out of bed wearing unmatching PJs, sitting in her chair deep in conversation with one of her imaginary friends. She looked very unkempt and unfortunately there was a strong smell of stale urine in the room. She acknowledged our arrival and then asked where the other three people had disappeared to. We settled her down and asked her about her week. She asked us when we were going to have our Christmas dinner and was very surprised to find that Christmas had been and gone and had no recollection of our visit on Christmas day.

One of her carers popped in to apply her voltarol gel and I mentioned the fact that she appeared to be wet and without hesitation she arranged for one of the other carers to pop up and change her. Mum was a bit unhappy about the interruption but did agree in the end. She  was also promised her a bath later in the day.

We gave Mum a glass of sherry and then all sat down to do the crossword. She was particularly good and laughed when I suggested that the sherry must be good for her brain.

Her lunch arrived and I told her that she could have a glass of whiskey and some of Robert’s home made Christmas cake if she ate it all which she duly did!

After lunch she declared that her father had died. I told her that he had died some time ago but she corrected me and told me that he had in fact died last night.

Jude decided to distract her and give her a manicure but unfortunately the nail clippers had gone missing so she reapplied her nail varnish. Mum drank her whiskey and ate her cake and then started up a conversation with her imaginary friend which persisted for the next hour. Some of this involved the buying of a new pair of scissors when she next went to town. This took her onto the best place to buy meat and then onto the fact that her Mother had told her she had 8 suitors down at the bus station! As usual she spoke both sides of the conversation just as if there were two people chatting away.

We let her chat away as it was becoming more difficult to break into the conversation when suddenly she looked at Jude and asked her if she had sold her house yet! Jude explained that they had exchanged contracts and were hoping to complete next week. She then asked if they had found anywhere to live yet and asked about the cats!

We both mused how strange it was that she could not remember Christmas but was now able to remember that Jude was selling the house. I think it is now becoming real to her that Jude will be leaving soon for her new life in Tasmania. I am not looking forward to the day she goes and have no idea what effect it will have on Mum.