Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 28 Mar, 2024

Thursday

I was relatively early today. Stopped off to visit Mum on my way to the gym.

The car park at The Home looked unusually busy and there were a lot more visitors signed in than normal. And there was a lot more noise than normal coming from the coffee lounge. But Audrey’s voice is quite distinctive and she’s in the middle of it. She’s having a party!

I found Mum half asleep and laying a lot flatter than I’d have expected for mid-afternoon.

“Hello Mum! How’re you feeling?”.

“Not very good”.

“Oh. Have you told anybody?”

“No.”

“Do you want me to tell somebody now?”

“No. Leave me alone.”

So not a great start then. But this is Day 2 or 2-and-a-bit of her cycle. She’s still not properly awake yet and this is when she feels a bit low, a bit sorry for herself and, sometimes, a bit weepy. I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. She’s just miserable. So I just start talking.

“Lesley did the supermarket run today. so it was just me and The Dog on the walk again this morning Mum. We got bloody soaked. Again!

“We met a lady we often see on our walks and this time she didn’t have her own dog with her.  Madam wanted to say Hello and I thought it would be OK for them to meet because the lady’s desperate for Our Girl to like her. She got two treats and behaved like an angel. Not like last time we tried. She jumped up and nearly knocked the poor old girl over!

“Then we met our posties. When the younger one first started on our route a couple of years ago that menace of ours wanted to bite his face off. But last week she took two big treats off him and went for a cuddle. When she saw the van today she stood and waited for her treats but they’d run out. When she tried that cute ‘lifting one paw’ thing she does to get a treat they just melted.”

Mum smiled at that but I could’ve sworn she was trying not to.

Then I tried taking a leaf out of Eldest Sister’s book and reminiscing a bit. I’ve said before that I really struggle with this. Most of my memories from when I was little are from my Dad and His Boys going out and doing Boy Stuff.

“Lesley’s been doing some baking. She made some delicious jam tarts. Do you remember when we used to bake?”

“Yeah”

“What was it we used to make most?”

“Gingerbread”

“Oh yeah. Gingerbread. Your gingerbread was famous”

And with that, we were away. The conversation flowed until Terri came in with a cup of tea.

We got Mum sat up and I was about to take the cup and hold it for Mum when it became clear that Terri had a different plan. Mum was going to have to hold the cup for herself.

“And make sure you finish it Iris!” she said as she left the room.

And Mum managed. She did drink all of it but she got tired half way through and I had to take over holding the cup.

“She’s nice, isn’t she Mum”

“Yes. Yes she is”

“But then they all are here, aren’t they”

“Yeah”

She forgot not to smile at the thought again.

I’d been reading to her while she drank her tea. Yet another lap round Father Okoli’s parish in the Cotswolds. These tales are ideal for Mum. Each chapter is a self-contained story which takes five minutes to read and which has a twee little homily at the end. There are running themes which span chapters but the stories still work if the reader doesn’t remember them. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read these now and only once has Mum said “Heard it before!”. If Mum says “Have you got any stories?”, this is the book she means.

These stories kept her melancholy mood at bay for a while but I could tell it was back when, out of the blue, she said “I love you”. I just squeezed her hand.

“I’m here every day Mum. Rain or shine”

“I know.”

Bibliography

Tales from the Parish: 31 humorous short stories about community, family and village life, set in the English countryside

Kindle Edition

by Stefania Hartley

.

Author’s Note

My Mum is in a nursing home in a small village in the Thames Valley. The photo is not of the home. I used an AI image generator to give the reader some idea of the home she’s in.

All, some or maybe even none (you’ll never know!) of the names have been changed to protect privacy and hide real identities. If you think you recognise someone then let me know and I’ll edit the post or remove it entirely

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