Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 29 Mar, 2024

Friday

A lovely spring day today. Blowing a gale, lovely sunshine one minute and lashing down with rain the next. Everyone was dozing after their lunch when I got to The Home.

“Am I pleased to see you. Nobody’s been to see me since Friday” says Mum.

“It IS Friday Mum. It’s Good Friday”

“Is it!? Not Thursday?”.

“No Mum. You were pretty sleepy yesterday so you must’ve missed it.”

“Oh.”

She starts to fidget a bit and I ask if she’s uncomfortable.

“No, I’m trying to get me arm out so I can hold your hand”

Ah, so not strong enough to get her arm out from under the duvet then.

Then she starts talking and I can’t make anything out until she says “I just want to go out.”

“OK Mum. I think that’s a good idea but the weather isn’t warm enough yet. A change of scenery would do you good though. Why don’t I have a chat with Julia next time she’s in to see what she thinks?”

“Yeah. See what Julia thinks”

The chances of Julia thinking anything different from what I’m thinking are pretty remote I reckon. Mum’s not strong enough to sit up without pillows to prop her up. But I might ask anyway. Possibly.

She then redirects her attention to a regular topic. Looking round the room at things both real and imaginary, telling me which of her belongings need “sorting out”, where to put them and what to do with the things she doesn’t want in preparation for moving. But there’s a different twist this time around this particular loop. She isn’t talking about going back to her home. She’s talking about going to a different nursing home.

“All those places you looked at. Have a look at them and some other places. They don’t care here and I never see anybody. Nobody comes to see me here. I thought they would come to see me more often…”

I’m about to tell her that her room’s like Piccadilly Circus with people in and out to see her and that I’ve never met a group of such caring people but we’re interrupted by the arrival of Reggie who is doing his afternoon round.

Mum lights up. He asks how she is and she says “Alright thank you” followed by something that neither of us can understand. Then he takes her hand and says

“I’ll tell you what Iris, it’s good to see you up and awake”

She gives him the biggest smile I’ve seen in weeks. Happy as Larry she is.

Then he asks me how the new neighbour is.

“She’s been quiet today. Haven’t heard a peep out of her at all. She hasn’t banged on the wall once.”

“That’s because she isn’t in there. She’s in the lounge”

“Ah. OK. That’ll be why then”

 When he’s gone I say

“He’s nice, isn’t he Mum. He makes me laugh”

“Yeah, he is.”

“But then they’re all really nice here”

“Yeah”

By this stage, she’d talked herself to a standstill and was getting sleepy. I read a couple of chapters of Father Okoli’s adventures in the Cotswolds and she dozed off.

She’d done pretty well today considering. She’d managed to drink quite a bit and even managed to hold the cup herself. Mostly. But this melancholy mood is lingering longer than it usually does. There’s a new tic though. She keeps scratching at the tip of her tongue as if she’s trying to get rid of a stray hair or something. She’s been doing it very occasionally for a few weeks but today it’s constant. Eldest Sister said she was doing it last weekend too but I’ve never seen it this bad before. She’s also constantly wiping her face like you’d do if you’d walked through a cobweb.

And then she suddenly wakes up. She’s had a bright idea.

“If you go home to eat now, you can come back again later!”

Bloody hell.

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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