Happy Easter – Sunday 21st

Wow! We couldn’t have much better weather for an Easter Bank Holiday – it has been really glorious. I left Robert grappling with the shingle roof of the summer house and drove over to see Mum in beautiful sunshine. The country side was looking so beautiful that I didn’t even mind getting stuck behind a very slow tractor for several miles as it gave me more time to see the view! I also laughed when a motor cyclist exposed his bare buttocks to the world – I think his trousers were just to small!!

Mum sadly was not having one of her better days. She seemed rather vague and I am not sure how much of my conversation she was able to comprehend. I wished her a Happy Easter and gave her a large Cadburys chocolate egg and a new night dress. She looked at the egg quizzically and asked me what it was. I explained that it was made of chocolate and that she could eat it after lunch if she wanted to. I poured her  a small glass of white wine and attempted to engage her in conversation telling her about my recent trips to the cinema to see a live production of ‘As you Like it’ and a trip to our very sweet little theatre Play house in Northampton to see a play about a Lady in New York who starts buying books from a small bookshop in London. I am not sure how much she understood so after showing her my latest little bears and feeding her lunch and half of the Easter egg which had sadly softened in heat I put on an Andre Rieu DVD. She used to love watching his concerts and although she had no idea who he was she started to hum along to the music and said ‘ I think it is great that the BBC have put something like this on the TV today.’

We sat and watched the concert which had been recorded in Vienna together. She then suddenly started becoming agitated and said that she needed to go to work later but was not able to tell me where or what she was supposed to be doing. I tried to reassure her that she had not worked for over 30 years and she eventually settled down. She then said that she needed to go home as she was ‘going to go to Hell!’. I asked her why she wanted to go there and she replied that it was the ‘quickest route’!

For the rest of my visit she remained rather vague and disconnected; so much so that I asked her if she knew who I was. She replied that she didn’t and when I told her that I was her daughter she looked perplexed. I asked her if she knew what a daughter was and she said that she didn’t.

I am aware that my Mum is slowly disappearing but today seemed particularly upsetting. I am not sure how much she comprehends and if she just smiles and answers vaguely as she is now retreating in to her own little world.

I felt very upset as I left and shed a few tears. One of Mum’s carers came to have a chat with me and reassured me that most of the time Mum seems very happy. She chats away to her imaginary friends when she is awake and is usually very calm. She said that she had even been happy for them to hoist her to the bathroom earlier in the week. We both agreed that although this is a devastating disease it does seem to be worse for the relatives who have to watch their loved ones slowly disappear and fade away.

Very sad news today about suicide bombings in Sri Lanka – many people have lost their lives or been seriously injured. My thoughts and prayers are with them and their families as I wish everyone a very Happy and peaceful Easter.

 

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Wednesday 17th April – Where did Jude go?

It has been a beautiful day today. We came back from a day in London last night having walked up the 311 steps of the Monument  near Pudding Lane and spent a very pleasant evening with friends dining at the Albert Hall and watching a well preserved Martin Fry of ABC deliver a rather wonderful rendition of The Lexicon of Love. They were one of the new romantic bands of the 80s and Martin Fry their lead singer had to retire early after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He has now made a comeback with the help of a full orchestra and new backing band which leant itself well to the splendour of the Albert Hall.

Robert was a little tired after the late night drive home so opted to stay at home and start some of the works on the summer house which was delivered 2 days ago and is now sitting in very large pieces in the garage waiting construction!

Mum was in bed and one of her carers, Jo was attempting to feed her her lunch. Sadly the meat had not been minced up so that Mum could not eat it. She happily volunteered to take it away and returned with some butternut squash risotto. Mum was not too keen on it to start with but then manged to eat the whole plate accompanied by a small glass of wine which I had bought her. She initially greeted me with the fact that she was ‘fed up’ but did agree that a glass of wine or better still whisky might improve her mood. Jo, left the room and returned with a very welcome glass of whisky to be consumed at the end of her lunch.

She looked a bit unkempt and out of sorts today and was more than usually psychotic, chatting to various imaginary people in the room and asking me who it was that kept on whispering. She told me that she had been out shopping at Webbs in the morning but was a bit disappointed that they no longer seemed to cater for the older generation. She then began to talk to someone sitting next to her who appeared to be trying to get her to drive her car. I asked who she was talking to and she told me it was Jude. She then started talking to her mother about money and how her Dad had been spending too much. She thought it very unlikely that he was stealing her money as he kept most of his in match boxes!!

She rambled on with various people about all sorts of things including the fact that she had been to a site earlier which had been bulldozed to accommodate some new shops!

We watched the BBC news and I tried to explain about the devastating fire at Notre Dame but I am not sure how much she understood.

I showed her some photos of our trip to London yesterday and told her about the summer house and the news that our neighbours were moving. She was pretty surprised at this but it soon became apparent that she thought I was talking about the neighbours who used to live next door to her when she was a small child.

I sat down beside her and did some sewing of yet another teddy bear – she liked the colour of this one and I promised to return with him fully made on Easter Sunday.

We then rang Robert to see how things were going. I tried to get Mum to talk to him but she didn’t quite get the idea and had a conversation with herself instead!

As I got up to leave the room to go home, she asked me where Jude had gone? I told her that Jude was now living in Tasmania and was busy renovating her new home and showed her a photo of the house.  ‘ I think I must be going crazy’ she said. There is no answer to that!

Happy Easter holidays to all my readers – the weather forecast is going to be glorious!

Wednesday 10th April -port and chocolate

I drove over to see Mum today leaving Robert at home to sort out some electrics in the garden as we are hoping for a long warm summer and went out on Monday to buy a summer-house!

Mum was fast asleep in bed and took about 10 minutes to wake up.  I asked her how she was and was met by the fact that today she had decided she was going to die! I asked her if she felt unwell enough to die and she replied that ‘ she didn’t know what that was supposed to feel like!’  I asked her if she would like a glass of port and chocolate if it was going to be her last day and she replied that she would ‘rather have whisky!’. I persuaded her to try the port as I had bought her a miniature bottle of Taylors which she really enjoyed and plied her with Cadburys dairy milk chocolate. After she had finished her port I trimmed her nails and we sat and watched the BBC news on the TV. She has no idea what is going on re Brexit so I suppose she is not dissimilar to the majority of the population!

Two of her carers arrived with her lunch and decided that she needed moving up the bed so that she could sit up a bit further. They managed to get the sling under her and hoisted her up the bed. She was most disgruntled and really rather very rude to both of them. She really hates being moved around but eventually agreed that it did make eating a little easier.  She only managed a few mouthfuls of her lunch but did manage to eat all of her pudding – a rather tasty looking chocolate brownie with cream.

I chatted to her about my week including the newly purchased summer-house which arrives next week and needs putting up! I am not expecting it to be an easy task! Watch this space!

I have agreed to help out with the rotary club stroke awareness day on Saturday and will be outside Tesco taking blood pressures and giving advice. I told Mum about this and she told me that she can put her  own blood pressure up just by getting angry! I think I had just witnessed that for myself.

I sat next to her sewing my latest and newest size ted whilst she dozed.

I left her slumbering away and drove back in beautiful sunshine – I hope she is still with us next week but then again there is a small part of me that hopes that she can just drift off to sleep one day and never wake up.

Saturday 6th April – who is writing on the wall?

Last week we were blessed with such beautiful weather that we took a punt and hired a canal boat for 5 days starting on Monday. The Friday before saw temperatures soaring towards 17 degrees. I rang my friend Alison and arranged to meet her and her Mum Kath at Hanbury Hall.  Poor Kath is slowly deteriorating. She now has no short term memory at all and her long term memory and reasoning is now starting to fade making any conversation fairly limited. We had a lovely day wondering around the beautifully manicured parterre and gardens and stopped for a bite of  lunch in the café. Poor Kath probably had no recollection of her visit but I am sure she had a lovely time. On the way home, I stopped in to visit Mum who was not feeling very well, was very tired and had very little conversation. I told her about our forthcoming trip but I suspect she had no memory of this as soon as I had left.

I drove over today in beautiful sunshine even though it was still only 8 degrees. Mum was in bed and talking animatedly to ‘someone’ when I walked in. She was telling them that she would not be able to go out today as she was waiting for her husband Howard to arrive as he had promised to take her shopping for a dress. I broke into her conversation to say hello but it she looked at me in bewilderment and clearly had no idea who I was. When I told her who I was, she broke out laughing as if she had just had a light bulb moment.

I told her about our week and showed her photos of our visit to the National Arboretum last Saturday and photos from our canal boat holiday. I am not too sure how much she understood as I showed her photos of some of the 350 memorials within the arboretum, including a section of the Burma railway. It is a very moving and interesting place to visit. We had gone specifically to hear a talk about some of the SOE women who had ended up in Ravensbruck.

Our canal boat holiday had proved a success in spite of a sudden change in the weather resulting in occasional showers, ground frost and a small hail storm! We had taken Elgar with us who had spent much of his time buried under the duvet , with or without us in it! I had managed to open and close 12 locks in both directions with some much needed assistance by some other boaters on the return journey. We also met up with friends for a cooked breakfast on the boat, other friends for  lunch in a rather nice hostelry and some more friends for dinner on the last night which was 4 paces from our mooring.

Mum listened to my stories but suddenly asked me why there were 2 men standing by the door. I tried to reassure her that there was nobody there but that she was probably mistaking the shadow of  the sling from her hoist which was hanging on the door but she was not entirely convinced. She then asked me what had happened to her father who she said was sitting in the chair by the bed. I told her that he had probably gone shopping.

Her lunch arrived and I managed to persuade her to eat a few mouthfuls before she said she didn’t want anymore. I then plied her with port and some mini bakewell tarts and chocolate. She then became quite animated and asked me why another man was standing by the TV and writing on the wall!  I find it difficult to answer these type of questions without upsetting her so quickly tried to change the subject which appeared to work.

She dozed on and off for the rest of my visit whilst I sat next to her and did some sewing. She does seem to have a bit of a chesty cough. I asked her to take care of herself, kissed her goodbye and reminded her that I will be back to see her on Wednesday.

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Happy 91st Birthday Mum.

It was Mum’s birthday yesterday and my sister had been to visit and taken up a cake and some presents. She had apparently had a lovely day and the staff had made a fuss of her. Sadly, today she had no recollection of any celebration and when we wished her Happy Birthday and reminded her of her birthday yesterday she seemed disappointed that no one had visited! I did point out the birthday cake and the birthday banners surrounding her bed but she just seemed rather bemused and very tired.
She initially greeted Robert as Harry. When I reminded her that he was called Robert she said ‘ ah yes, So that makes you Angela. I will try and remember that now.’
I gave her some presents including a bottle of whisky and a small toy scottie dog which she really loved and decided straight away to name him Robbie ( this was the name of our first cairn terrier.)  I poured her a small glass of Kir Royale and we all drank to her health. I asked her if she know that she was now 91 and she replied ‘Good George, is that all?’ and then told us not to have bought so many presents as she didn’t think she would live for much longer and didn’t think she would see the summer. I told her that my friend’s father celebrated his 98th birthday yesterday to which she replied ‘ and what is his secret?’  I replied that I thought it was because he lived in Sweden to which she asked if she could go there too. I told her that he was looking for a lady friend and she decided that she might be ideal and wanted to go over and visit him.
Mum’s lunch arrived but she flatly refused to eat any of it saying that it looked horrid and she was fed up with food she was offered. I didn’t push it as she was quite adamant and cut her a slice of birthday cake instead which she enjoyed.  Her lunch was also accompanied by a glass of whisky which Robert pretended to drink. ‘You daredevil’ she declared and laughed.
She was very tired after all of yesterday’s celebrations and found it very difficult to stay awake for more than a few minutes.
Later on she talked again about not being here in the summer. Where are you going? I enquired . ‘Ah’ she said ‘that is the question that nobody can answer.’ I asked her if she was going to meet her Mum and Dad and she said that she hoped so. When I asked if she was looking forward to meeting her husband again she replied ‘Certainly not’. I told her that he had probably been waiting for her to join him for many years….  ‘ to which she responded ‘Yes, with a hammer to knock me on the head!’ I then told her that she might go on to live to be 100 to which she replied ‘ I wouldn’t mind, I like it here.’

I asked her if she wanted anything and she thought for a while and said ‘ no, I have got everything I have ever wanted.’ ‘Would you like a chocolate button? ‘ I asked ‘ Yes please’ she replied. She then went on to say that there is only one thing a woman wants and that is a man!!’

My sister Jude had sent Mum a wonderful card made up of multiple photos of Mum when she was young. Mum was really pleased with it so I asked her to pose with it for a photo. When I showed it to her she responded ‘ but it looks like I am still in bed!’ There is no reply to that.
This week I reached my milestone of finishing my 100th Classical teddy bear. I have now decided to try making some tiny bears which are pretty tricky – I have made two but think they may need slightly smaller eyes. I showed them to Mum who thought they were both very cute.
We left her slumbering and made our way home in the beautiful spring sunshine – stopping on the way to admire the most beautiful magnolia trees which are really spectacular this year.
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March 20th – 99 going on 100!

Robert was feeling a little worse for wear this morning as he had been out to dinner with some ex work colleagues last night. I left him at home to do some baking (!) and drove over in the spring sunshine. The journey was adorned by hosts of yellow daffodils nodding in the wind and new born lambs gambolling round in the fields.

Mum was fast asleep when I arrived and looked very tired. She took a little while to wake up and was quite drowsy for the first 20 minutes. I gave her some of the latte I had purchased on the way and showed her my latest little teddy bear – a little bear called Greig made out of a material called ‘teddy yellow’. He is my 99th ‘Classical Bear!’. Mum seemed quite amused if not a little impressed.

One of her large , very hairy teddy bears was seated at the bottom of her bed and she told me that she was going to become very angry if anyone else touched him! She told me she had been fighting with people all week. When I asked who she had been fighting with she replied ‘ Anyone who will take me on!’. I told her that it was not like her to be aggressive to which she replied ‘I am not my normal self.’

We have had a busy week which included cooking Sunday lunch for friends, putting up new dining room curtains which I showed Mum a photo of,  going to see HMS Pinafore and playing in a concert with my orchestra. Mum listened to me as I told her about each event but I am not sure how much she took in or understood.

I told her that Robert had stayed at home today as he had had a little too much to drink last night and that sometimes it was good for us to have a little time apart. She then told me that ‘her husband could stay away for as long as he liked – preferably 100 days because he was such a Pig!’ She then became very animated and quite angry but quickly settled down when I changed the subject and offered her some chocolate and a glass of red wine. Changing the subject I tried to tell her that it was the Equinox today but couldn’t think of the word and had to resort to ‘the thingamajig!’  I asked her what the word was and she replied ‘ well, if you don’t know then I can’t tell you!’.

I reminded her that it is her 91st birthday next week and that her birthday is the same day as my friend Jennie’s father who is now heading into his late nineties. It is quite amazing how many of our friends now have parents in their  late 80s / 90s, something that would have been fairly rare a decade or two ago.

I was pleased to see that she now had her new gel pad in place. She said that she felt very comfortable even though one of her legs was bent under the other at an angle of  greater than 90 degrees.

I fed her her lunch, a plate of minced up roast pork and vegetables and she ate very well, leaving only a few forkfuls on the plate.  Her pudding comprised a rather lack lustre portion of spotted dick and custard. She was not too impressed and after the first mouthful declared that she had better try and eat some more as she didn’t want to offend the chef.

We watched the  news on the TV for a little while which not surprisingly was all about Brexit. She started laughing as one of the news reporters became very animated whilst reporting from the houses of parliament. I don’t think she had any idea what he was talking about but suddenly surprised me by announcing his name! How did you know his name? I enquired. ‘ it was written on the screen’ she replied. It is intriguing how she has no idea what is going when she watches the TV and sometimes appears to see things on it which aren’t there but she can still manage to read the subtitles!

She slept for most of the remainder of my visit whilst I sat sewing my 100th little ted!

I stood up to leave and kissed her goodbye. ‘Thanks for coming to visit me ‘ she said out of the blue and ‘Give my love to Robert!’.

 

Greig – Number 99!.

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March 13th -Where’s my bike?

Storm Gareth was on the way today as Robert and I drove over to see Mum. A diversion due to a traffic jam meant that we did not pass the coffee shop and therefore only arrived with a small bottle of wine.

Mum looked fairly uncomfortable as she had slipped down the bed and when I tried to raise the top of the bed to feed her her lunch she complained that her neck was hurting. We managed to sort her out and her lunch arrived – peas, scampi and chips. She initially argued that she didn’t like any of it but did manage a few forkfuls without spitting any out.

She was quite chatty today and told me that she had been over at her Mum’s house in the morning and had snuck out to come and stay in this room for a few hours but would have to get back. She was also distracted by some young boys who she could see running around in the ‘garden’ outside of her window. She thought they were playing football but was not sure. I asked her how old they were and she told me ‘they are old enough to know better!’

She let me manicure and apply new  varnish to her nails whilst we chatted to her about our week and showed her some photos. One of the photos showed two little black kittens hiding in a roof. She then told me that she could see a cat on her bed and that there had also been a dog there earlier.

I gave her a small glass of wine which she enjoyed after which she asked me how they made wine. She was also concerned that she had lost one of her rings with a green stone.

I played her a recording of my recent piano piece which still needs much more practise. She was moderately impressed and then said that it sounded fairly easy!! If only that were the case.

My sister Jude is writing a novel and has sent me a draft of the first few chapters which I read yesterday. I really loved it and it is beautifully written, I tried to explain the plot to Mum but she found it a bit confusing. I have also been making more teddies! I have nearly reached my 100th! Mum was very surprised and told me that they were very popular at the police station!

I was very disappointed to find that the gel cushion which had been promised had not materialised and even more surprised to find the packaging of the last one which had an expiry date in 2015! It was also very disappointing when no one brought up any pudding or coffee after lunch so I set off downstairs to find out what had been happening. One of the carers expressed how sorry she was but she had ‘forgotten’ to bring up Mum’s pudding. I told her I was very disappointed and that it did not give me any confidence that this was not happening on a regular basis when we were not there and left it at that. She swiftly arrived with a bowl of pears, raspberries and cream and a cup of coffee. I also asked if I could see a senior member of staff to discuss the gel pad.  Shortly after, one of the senior carers arrived and I explained the situation with the gel pad and how it had now been missing for the last 2-3 weeks and showed her the expiry date on the packet which also had Mum’s name written on it.  She was extremely apologetic and promised me that she would make sure that another two were ordered via the district nurse to ensure that one was always in place. She had also heard  about the lack of pudding and coffee and had already had stern words with all concerned and reassured me that it would not happen again.

Mum was not too concerned about the lack of pudding and coffee but did manage to eat most of it. She then told us that she was going to cycle to Bromsgrove later on and wanted to know what the weather was like. I told her I thought it was far too windy but she seemed adamant that she needed to go and was contemplating which route to take. I asked her if she had a helmet to wear to which she replied ‘Helmets are for horse riders!’ She then asked me if I rode my bike to school?  I replied that I am no longer at school and have actually retired. She seemed somewhat surprised and suggested that I go back and teach a few lessons!  I told her that I was not a teacher but had been a doctor! She seemed fairly surprised to hear that and told me I was far too young to be retired.

We were all watching ‘Escape to the Country’ which featured Tintagel castle in Cornwall. I asked her if she remembered us going there when we were children and she appeared to do so, I reminded her how windy it had been and that Jude and I had nearly been blown away. ”Well,’ she said ‘I was alright, because I was in my pushchair!’

We finally left her debating her cycle route. I hope she enjoys the journey and does not fall off!

Parliament have yet another vote tonight to decide whether or not we’ Brexit’ with or without a deal even though they have already rejected the only deal on offer! You couldn’t make it up!

 

 

 

 

 

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