Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 7 Apr, 2024

Sunday

A trip to Father-in-Law was necessary today and a toolkit was required. I had to attend to some of the worst bits of indoor falling-apartness before his other daughter arrives from half a dozen time zones away. It’s not for his benefit. Lesley got a full set of house-proud genes from her Mum and she doesn’t want his house looking derelict.

While I got plastering, Lesley got on with the routine meds preparation, laundry and admin tasks. Then we got to talking about his compensation claim after the mesothelioma diagnosis and getting some details about the jobs he had before she speaks to solicitors.

All I can say about that is good luck to whoever has to take a detailed statement from him about it. Getting him to stay on topic will be a nightmare. Getting him to distinguish between the vitally important detail and the trivial anecdote will be a nightmare because if he thought it and wants to say it then it’s vitally important. Putting up with all the repetition will do their heads in. Hearing “Did I mention So-and-So?” for the fourth time was wearing because he won’t hear you say he’s already told you and tells you again. Every time I visit I keep having to remind myself that this is a man who thinks it’s 1964. But he’s also a man whose poor hearing seems to be selective. Even medical professionals have said this about him. We’re not alone in this. I Googled “How to cope with a toxic parent” and it nearly broke the internet. I know I take flak at home for the way I talk about him but he’s the man who’s driving my wife batty.

Then there was a discussion about what to do so that there was room for his visitors to sleep. It’s not the first time we’d been through this. Some items that could be relocated to the garage were eventually identified. These included a laundry bin with a broken lid and another laundry bin that we had put out to go to a charity shop 20 years ago. Both of those are surplus to requirements because there is at least one other laundry bin that he actually uses. And both are utterly indispensable apparently.

The visit left us with the normal level of stress and mind-fog and as usual, we left something behind in the scramble to get out. It was Lesley’s phone this time.

The dog got a decent walk though.

So it was already late when I got to The Home after a rushed meal. In the lobby there was a member of the night shift readying herself for a 12-hour stint. She was being berated by the lady who Eleanor had been shouting at the other day. On seeing me she changed tack.

“Please! Please! You have to open the door! It’s late and my husband will be wondering where I am!”

We were joined by another member of staff and they gently and carefully talked her down. I was told that it was her 101st birthday the other day and that she was always like this after her daughter had visited.

I headed off towards Mum. A couple of the day shift were in the rear lounge.

“Hi Guys! Please tell me she’s asleep.”

“She is. Has been all day.”

“Thank goodness for that!” I said. Or words to that effect anyway.

Then Eleanor yelled at me

“WHERE ARE YOU GOING!??”

“I’m off to see my Mum”

“TAKE ME WITH YOU!!!”

“She’s just down here and round that corner”

“Oh”

Mum was indeed fast asleep. Totally unresponsive. I didn’t hang around.

Eleanor was on her feet and waiting for me when I returned.

“Please take me with you when you go! I’ve got all these kids to put to bed” she pleaded, pointing at the soft toys in the basket of her walking frame.

“The staff are just down there Eleanor,” I told her. “Just take a seat here and I’ll send one of them up to help you.”

She started to cry.

Bloody hell.

When I got to the night shift they were having their briefing. Apart from the two who were still consoling the lady I met on my way in that is.

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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