Wednesday October 26th

Well, another week has flown by and as usual I haven’t managed to do half the things I meant to. I really have no idea where the time goes – however we have managed two outings to the cinema, I went walking with my village ladies group and met up for my monthly dinner date with my two university mates, managed to go to orchestra practise, went swimming twice and made several teddy Christmas decorations. During the same time, poor old Mum has just sat in her chair in her room doing nothing.

We had a beautiful drive over – autumn is in full swing and the trees are all looking magnificent as they prepare to drop their leaves for the forthcoming winter. We didn’t arrive until 13 15  and when I asked Mum if she had had lunch she replied that she had but was not sure what she had eaten. She did however readily agree to go out to Webbs ( a wonderful garden centre in Wychbold) to visit their Christmas decorations. She seemed very well mentally and sat patiently watching and listening to Robert’s narration of the final half of our holiday slides and asked appropriate questions. However at 13 45 one of her carers arrived with her lunch! She decided that she did not want any but was happy to go out for  coffee and cake. I  helped her to the toilet which as usual was a bit of a struggle as she cannot get out of the chair herself and her mobility is very poor with her walking frame. She let me apply some make up and soon we were on our way.

Robert drove us through all the country lanes and Mum was delighted to see all the beautiful colours and the little ducks which were swimming in the ford we had to cross. She did not talk to herself at all but talked to us about the scenery and how beautiful everything looked.

Unfortunately when we arrived at Webbs it was teaming with school children. I had forgotten it was the school half term holiday! However we managed to find a disabled parking space and some how extracted Mum from the car and into her wheel chair. It is usually a bit of a struggle and she often stops mid way saying she ‘can’t do it!’. ‘ No such thing as can’t I say, reminding her of what she used to say to us as children which usually makes her laugh.

In the entrance of Webbs there was a wonderful Christmas display with larger than life animated reindeer heads looking out of stable doors and singing! Mum really enjoyed looking at all the displays and Christmas decorations and enjoyed her coffee and cake even though the café was very noisy and busy. I tried to persuade her to try on some more supportive slippers in an attempt to try and help her mobility but she refused point blank!

At 4 00pm exactly, whilst I was looking at the paints in Hobby Craft and Robert was pushing Mum around she suddenly started talking to herself. This continued all the way back to the car and the whole of the journey home. The conversation flitted from subject to subject and on occasions she was Joan, then her husband Howard, then a friend and sometimes she was her mother. A typical burst of conversation:

‘ Joan, you must have a very unhappy marriage’

‘ why do you say that?’

‘ because you are always out with these two shopping and Howard is always left at home.’

‘That’s because he likes his own company and shopping is his worst nightmare.’

‘oh, is that right? Why doesn’t he like shopping?’

‘ Because he would have to spend money!’

Other conversations involved Howard going off to the pub and drinking all night ( something he never did!) and Mum saying that she only liked going out drinking  as long as someone else was paying! There was also a conversation about them getting into a taxi and realising that they owed the taxi driver money from a trip before but he was so impressed by their honesty that he let them off the fare! One of the weirdest conversations was about a man who had become depressed about money problems and had ‘cut off his head above the shoulders’. He did however have it sewn back on the following day in hospital!

She kept the chatter going continuously for at least 25 minutes and arriving back at her home, once again she refused to get out of the car stating that she didn’t live here and wanted to go back to her old home. It took us a while to convince her but when we finally managed to get her out of the car I realised that she had lost one of her shoes!! This must of fallen off whilst  we were trying to get her in from her wheel chair which is always a struggle. Robert then remembered that he had thought he ran something over when we were leaving the car park!

We eventually bundled her into her wheel chair and wheeled her back to her room minus one shoe passing by all the wonderful Halloween decorations. I reminded her that the clocks go back  at the weekend and she said that it must nearly be November. I gave her a glass of port and she wished us both a Happy Christmas.




19th October

Well, we have had a busy few days. Kevin and Susan, my cousin from Australia left us Saturday morning after a lovely few days. We took them to the golf club quiz on Friday evening and won first prize! One of the questions was who was The Rockhampton Rocket? the answer of course is Rod Laver, a famous Australian tennis player! Surprisingly Mum knew the answer straight away without hesitation when I asked her today!

I took Elgar to the vet yesterday as he appears to be seeing things that are not there! The vet examined his eyes and measured his blood pressure ( which cost £20!!) but we were both none the wiser at the end of the consultation. I do hope he is not getting dementia.

Mum was on good form today but sadly the message hadn’t got to her about going out to lunch. She was however keen to go out and let me get her ready and apply her make up whilst Robert showed her some of his hundreds of photos taken on our recent trip to the USA. She was very good and looked at many of them but occasionally seemed to see things and people who weren’t on them. After about 30 minutes I suggested we go out and see the rest next week and asked her if she needed to go to the loo before we went. I helped her up but unfortunately as she did so her bowels  ‘ let go’ and she didn’t quite make it to the toilet. Realising that this was a situation far beyond my capabilities ( I can deal with urine!) I called the carer and before long two lovely ladies came up and sorted her out. However much they are paid I can tell you , it is not enough!  Mum protested that it was nothing do do with her and must have been ‘someone else!’

We finally made it to the car and she chatted to herself all the way to the pub. I am not sure why but she seemed to be discussing the fact that in Algiers they wear pyjamas instead of nighties so she didn’t want to go there! She also mentioned the fact that Howard ( my Dad) was going to be taking her on a trip down the Nile!

Once we got to the pub we were met enthusiastically by Gabby the land lady who as usual made a great fuss of us all and we sat down to yet another lovely meal. Mum had scampi and chips and ate almost all of it. She remembered her Friday visit with Susan and Kevin but could not remember having met them before ( which was over 20 years ago!). She was very good during lunch and listened to our adventures – we had been to Brands Hatch at the weekend to watch the Super Bikes which had been surprisingly enjoyable with the weather much better than forecasted.

We stayed chatting with Gabby for rather longer than normal and Mum became very tired and nodded off a few times but did manage to finish her creme brulee which is now back on the menu.

We returned her back to the care home where she initially refused to get out of the car stating that this was not her home and that she only stayed there once a week. After a little time fortunately one of her carers was walking by and persuaded her to come in. I always find this very hard to deal with as she is so adamant that this is not her home and pleads with me not to leave her there.

We returned her to her room and settled her back into her chair and bid her farewell until next week.

Friday 14th October – an aussie surprise!

We returned from a fabulous bike trip to the USA early Wednesday morning having visited some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen. 10 of us started the trip in Vegas but sadly one couple had to return to the UK having received the sad but not unexpected news that Suzanne’s Mum had deteriorated and that she was not expected to live for more than a few days. She has had severe Parkinson’s with dementia and has been bed bound for the last 2 years.

We visited many of the National parks including Zion, Bryce Canyon, The Arches, Monument valley and of course the Grand Canyon.

We flew in to Manchester and took a taxi to Robert’s Mum’s house before driving back to Northampton. That evening just as we were about to retire for the night we were delighted if not very tired to receive a telephone call from my cousin and her husband who have come over from Australia saying that they were in the area and could not find local accommodation. We immediately invited them to stay with us and managed to stay up long enough to make them welcome and take them to the local pub for dinner. I had not seen either of them for over 10 years and this was their first trip to England for 60 years! Sue had been Mum and Dad’s bridesmaid at the age of 2 before her family emigrated to Australia when she was 10.

They were both very keen to visit Mum. She had Dad had visited them over 20 years ago in Australia!

I drove them over having rung the home earlier to let them know that we were on our way and was delighted to find Mum up , dressed and waiting for us in the downstairs lounge. I am not sure if she really knew who they were at first but agreed to go out to lunch. We managed to get her into the car and drove down to the local pub which she remembered was called the Red Hart. Gabby, the land lady gave us all a very warm welcome and made a real fuss of Mum.

Susan and Kevin chatted away to Mum who was able to recall some of her family history from days gone by and delight Sue by telling her that her Mum had worked in the same munitions factory as hers ( something I wasn’t aware of.)

We all enjoyed a really lovely lunch and Mum managed to eat quite a large portion of venison casserole. She clearly enjoyed their company and they hers which was lovely to see.

Mum could not remember her trip to Australia but declared that she did not like it! I think this may be because my sister Jude is going back to live there in the very near future. She had some recollection of the family but was a little sketchy.

She did talk to herself for short bursts but was easily distractable.

We took her back to her room and gave her a glass of port whilst we looked at some of her old photos with her.

Susan and Kevin were delighted to meet her again and said that it had been one of the high lights of their trip which was very sweet.

We bid her goodbye and I promised to return next week with Robert to show her all our photos and tell her all about our trip.


Monday 26th September – Angela who?

After a somewhat stressful few days I decided to go and visit Mum today as we are off on holiday tomorrow for nearly 2 weeks. My sister rang to tell me she had had another fall and as a result of this someone had requested yet another x ray of her right foot which she was going to have some time today. I therefore rang her home to be informed that she would be leaving for the hospital at 12 o’clock. Robert decided not to come but to spend the day packing which has proven to be rather a technically difficult task. We are flying to Las Vegas to meet up with 8 friends and then pick up the motorbikes and load our luggage into their panniers – thus luggage allowance is pretty restricted!

I went swimming in Daventry on the way and managed to swim my usual mile and then drove on to Mums arriving at around 14 30 and was pleased to find her sitting in her room, having had her  xray and had had lunch. She was on pretty good form mentally and knew that she had been for ‘yet another x ray of her foot’. She asked why I was there as she had thought we were on holiday. I explained that we were off tomorrow and she listened whilst I told her all about it and our recent good luck!  We have tried to have the outside of the conservatory painted this week but unfortunately the painter found so much rotten wood that he couldn’t continue. He managed to cut some out and replace it with new wood but there was one area which was beyond his capabilities! Having no idea what to do we rang the original building firm that has actually been taken over and asked if they could come and look at it and offer some advice. One of the directors took one look at it, realised that the sills had been built sloping the wrong way  (!) and declared that they would come and sort it out for free!!! We were both flabber ghasted and very grateful!  Mum seemed to understand and expressed her surprise at such wonderful customer  service. I also told her that our cat / house sitters we booked in February pulled out on Saturday due to health issues! Miraculously, we have found a wonderful young lady who actually lives in Northampton who is happy to come and stay for the required dates. She met us yesterday and Elgar really seemed to like her and she him.

Mum was on such good form that I asked her if she would like to play a game of scrabble which she agreed to! We haven’t played for ages so I was a bit surprised. She managed to put the first word down which I thought was mispealt. ‘Joan’ she asked ‘ isn’t that the way you spell it?  ‘ Yes , it is.’ she replied. I laughed and had to concede. We played on until we had covered half the board but I noticed that she was getting more and more breathless and seemed to be hyperventilating. She does have a rather rattly, chesty cough again but she now said she was getting dizzy. She then started talking to her imaginary friend ‘ I don’t think I would want to play scrabble.’ she said to her and then she replied ‘ I don’t think I do  either.’ I could see she was getting tired so I asked if she wanted to stop playing, particularly as she was winning and she replied that she did.

I tidied the game away and she drifted back to her own world chatting away to her ‘friend’ for the next hour. Subjects included the hospitality of Australians and how she was going to open a restaurant in Melbourne, to owning a little cottage in Weymouth. She chatted away almost incessantly virtually unaware that I was sitting next to her.

I eventually decided to leave and put my coat on. ‘where are you going? ‘ she asked  ‘back home to Northampton’ I replied. ‘ I think someone from our family lives there.’ she said ‘ Yes, Angela lives there!’  ‘ I am Angela! ‘ I replied and she suddenly burst into raucous laughter for about 5 minutes!

I kissed her goodbye and she wished me a good holiday.



Wednesday 21st September

We arrived today at around 13 15 intending to take Mum out for the afternoon before driving over to see my sister and her husband for dinner.

Mum was fast asleep in bed and talking in her sleep. Her mouth was dry and her voice quite husky which meant that it was impossible to make out what she was saying. After a few minutes I tapped her gently and she woke up and smiled at me. Her left eye was quite sticky and she was still obviously tired. I pretended to scold her for still being in bed at such a time and she laughed. ‘ I’m very comfortable here.’ I had to agree with her but asked if she would like to go out for some fresh air and some lunch and amazingly she said that she would! I reminded her that she would have to get up out of bed and get dressed.

We sent Robert out of the room and I attempted to get her out of bed noting that her night dress and bed clothes were wet through. I told her that she should really call for help if she needed to get up to go the loo and that it was not good for her to lie in wet clothes.

With some effort I manged to get her to sit up and stand with the help of her frame. She somehow managed to walk into her toilet room where I sat her down on the loo and undressed and washed her. Her mobility is now very poor and she walks with her right foot at nearly 90 degrees to normal! I am not sure why but she says that she can hardly stand on it. I eventually managed to get her dressed and sitting in her wheel chair when one of the carers arrived with her lunch. ‘ I’m going out for lunch’ she informed her proudly. I let her know that Mum’s bed was wet and she told me that she would see to it.

We somehow manged to bundle her into the car and she was pretty quiet on the way to the garden centre. As we arrived she started telling someone that she had fallen out of a tree and had to go to hospital. When I asked her who had fallen out of the tree she replied ‘ my mother.’

We sat outside and Mum decided on the Chilli Con Carne for lunch. She can read the menu easily and declared that she had not had any for ages. We chatted to her over lunch telling her about Robert’s sailing holiday and our forthcoming holiday to Las Vegas where we pick up motor bikes with our friends. She was quite interested and asked a few questions about the trip.

She enjoyed her lunch and ate quite a large proportion of it accompanied by a glass of wine. It then started to rain so we decided to move in side and had coffee and cake. She left most of her cake and fell asleep for a short while before we decided to go back. I told her how sleepy she was and she said ‘and so would you be if you had walked to church and back this morning in Catshill’.

Sadly, after having such a good afternoon with her she became very agitated when we arrived back at her care home and refused to get out of the car saying that she no longer lived there and that they had moved her back to her home in Marlbrook that morning. I could not persuade her otherwise and she declared that she would not get out of the car until we drove her home. After about 5 minutes I realised that I was getting no where and she was beginning to get very cross with me for not believing her so I went into her home and recruited two of her carers for help. She initially refused to get out of the car until Karen told her that she liked coming to her room as there was no TV surveillance and she could sit and eat a pudding with her undisturbed. The other helper told her that she must come back as she loved talking about the golfers and the rugby players with her. Mum started  laughing and said ‘ it looks like I have no choice’and let us help her out of the car and into her wheel chair.

When she got back to her room she started talking to her mother and told her that ‘ she really liked it here and was well looked after!’

One of Mum’s younger carers cornered me on the way out to tell me that she was really worried that Mum seemed to have taken to her bed and that they couldn’t get her up.  ‘ Well, she doesn’t have much to get up for ‘ I replied and told her that last winter she spent much of her time in bed. ‘ What would you want to do if you were her?’ I asked and without hesitation she replied ‘ Jump off a cliff!’ I know what she meant.



Wednesday 14th September – a Sensible woman.

Well, we are in the middle of a mini heat wave and I must confess to feeling exhausted. I have spent the last two days painting the garden fence whilst Robert is away sailing with his Sailability chums. They are however having rather an unfortunate time. First of all a giant thunderstorm and then one of them fell over on top of another who has ended up in A&E with broken ribs!

Last night I had a few friends round for dinner and we sat out in the garden until nearly midnight. Hence today, with temperatures in the high 20s and feeling very humid I was not really in the mood for driving over to see Mum. Jude had told me she had been more confused and hadn’t recognised her on her last visit.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to take her out by myself so took over some glasses, cans of Pimms and strawberries in a cool box. I had a good journey listening and singing to Rod Stewart on the way to keep myself awake.

Mum was sitting in her chair chatting away to herself when I arrived. She smiled when she saw me and asked where I had been and if Robert was with me. I explained that we had been away on a canal boat holiday last week and that I had bought all our photos on my laptop to show her and told her about Robert’s sailing holiday.

We enjoyed a glass of Pimms and some of the strawberries together and then sat and looked at all of the photos of which there were many! She appeared to be interested as I explained all about the locks and how they worked and showed her the pictures of Elgar in his life jacket and walking on his lead. She asked where Market Harborough was which is where we moored up for my birthday party with friends who came over. One of the photos showed a beautiful field of hay bales next to the canal. ‘who are the two ladies?’ she enquired and laughed when I pointed out that they were bales of hay!

I persuaded her to do her exercises with me and we also completed a crossword fairly easily before she started chatting away to herself again.

I must confess that after about 2 hours I lay on her bed and must have drifted off because I was suddenly aware that a further 45 minutes had passed by. When I woke up, she was still chatting away to herself. ‘You have been chatting away’ I said. She seemed very surprised and asked me who she had been chatting to. ‘Just to yourself’  I replied. ‘well at least it was to somebody sensible’ she said and laughed. There is no answer to that!

Wednesday 31st August

My sister had phoned earlier in the week to inform me that Mum was having a bad week. Her mobility is even worse and she has had a number of falls and been complaining of pain in her right leg. Mentally she has been very confused. Judith had taken her a trifle and she thought it was bacon and eggs and wanted to know the recipe! As a result of all this the doctor had been called in and decided she needed yet another x ray of her foot, which meant that when we arrived that she was still at the hospital. We therefore decided to go and have some lunch before returning to see if she was back. Our favourite pub was closed so we decided to try out The Old Bull in Inkberrow, the heart of Archers country. For any Archers fans out there, we could have sworn that Bert Fry was standing at the bar!

When we returned, Mum was back from her trip and had had her lunch. She had no idea where she had been or recollection of having an x ray of her foot. ‘Why would I want that? there is nothing wrong with my foot!’ I had to agree.

She readily agreed to go out for coffee and cake to the garden centre and after a bit of trouble we managed to get her into the car. She chatted away to herself all the way there and more or less the whole time we were there. Robert managed to tell her about his wonderful day at the cricket at Trent Bridge ( England’s highest one day score!) She asked who they were playing and said that she loved to watch a game of cricket. I told her about our forthcoming canal holiday and she said ‘ yes, and you are taking Elgar with you too! ‘ Goodness knows how she had remembered this!

Poor Elgar has been very unwell over the weekend -very lethargic, sad looking and lacking any sparkle! I had decided to cart him off to the vet on Tuesday but at the mention of the word he made a miraculous recovery!

Mum decided to have a glass of Pimms instead of her usual coffee which she really enjoyed.

On arriving back at her room one of her carers popped in. I asked Mum to tell her where we had been and what she had had to drink but Mum said she couldn’t remember!  I reminded her that she had had a glass of Pimms to which she replied ‘it doesn’t matter that I can’t remember because I am sure I enjoyed drinking it at the time!’