Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 3 Apr, 2024

Wednesday

Gina was in her office by the front door as I signed in at The Home this afternoon. I haven’t seen her for a while.

“Hello Nick! How are you?”

My standard reply when anyone there asks is to say that I’m absolutely wonderful but I’m not feeling especially wonderful today.

“And how are you?” I ask.

“I’m back”

“Ah. I see. Enough said!”

I met Reggie in the rear lounge on my way to Mum and there’s the usual banter. He asked if I was still able to get to the gym these days.

“I am, but it’s only once a week now. Thursdays usually. Except this week. Lesley’s dad’s got another appointment.”

The discussion moved on to what kind of workout I did.

“Deadlifts and/or bench press depending on how the warm-up and stretches go and then some really nasty pump for my arms and shoulders. I take my biceps and triceps to complete failure a couple of times just for fun.”

“Deadlifts! Oh man! I’m scared I’ll hurt my back!”

“Get yourself a proper trainer and get your technique right. I get much less back pain now than I did before I started lifting.”

He tells me how much he’s tried to lift. I tell him that I lift more than that just to warm up. Let’s be honest. I’d have said that whatever he told me just to wind him up. Fortunately, my trainer took a video of my biggest ever lift. I think he’s genuinely impressed.

Then Gina appeared and I thought that it was the right time to tell them about these posts. That they really were a thing now. They read some on my phone.

“I want to read them all!” she says.

“I’ll send you a link”

There was more chat and I suddenly realised I’d been there ages and hadn’t seen my Mum.

“Hello Mum! It’s Nick! How are you doing?”

“Ooh, I’m glad you’re here” she says, followed by something indistinct.

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

“I know. I always look forward to seeing you boys.”

She’d started to get a bit more mobile and it was obvious she wasn’t comfortable. I went through the routine of adjusting all her pillows and pulling the duvet straight.

“Better?”

“Yeah. That’s nice. Much better.” she said. And then

“Don’t leave me on me own.”

I got her to have a drink and she even had a Malteser.

“Do you want another one Mum? It’s a new box.”

“No. You can take those home with you”

“I won’t take them away. The Dog loves a cardboard box and she’s a proper menace where chocolate is concerned. And that’s if I don’t eat them all myself first. It’s best I leave them here.”

I started to tell her about my day. How rotten the weather was, how muddy it was in the fields where I walked the dog, how I got home dirtier than she did, how Lesley’s dad had yet another appointment tomorrow.

Then she perked up and told me that when I came tomorrow I had to go upstairs and sort out something that I couldn’t quite make out. I think she said something about socks and curtains. And then…

“Will you read to me?”

“Of course. Yesterday, I read Bill’s book about the Princess and the talking blue lobster. I don’t know how much of that you remember.”

Nothing at all, judging by the look on her face. So it was back to familiar territory and another reading of Tales From The Parish. I managed four chapters before she fell asleep again.

I met Lily as I left Mum’s room. I’d heard her walking up and down the corridor for at least 20 minutes so it was no surprise. She asked me how I was and then said

“I think it must be time for a cup of tea.”

“It’s never not time for a cup of tea Lily. Shall we go down this way?”

But she didn’t stop at the rear lounge. She followed me to the front lounge before asking

“Are you going to have a cup of tea too?”

I know from experience not to say “No, I’m going home now” because she’ll try and come with me. She’s deceptively quick and very persistent. It can be hard to shake her off when her mind is set on getting out.

“Not right now Lily. You find yourself a seat here and enjoy your tea. I might have one in a bit but I’m going to go this way now.”

“Righto!”

There was another long conversation with Gina as I signed myself out. I felt encouraged and uplifted afterwards. It’s not often I’m able to say I felt better on the way out than I did when I arrived. 

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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