Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 18 Apr, 2024

Thursday

Lesley was visiting her dad in the morning so The Dog’s expectation was that we should do Favourite Walk One. It’s the one we do when Lesley’s not there as it’s longer and muddier than she likes. The new rule is that it gets extended by including the last two-thirds of Favourite Walk Two. The Dog looked flabbergasted to be denied a further extension by adding Favourite Walk Three. That route is still too muddy even for me and I’d already done nearly 15,000 steps. However, the day’s main objective was achieved. Sausage was successfully rehabilitated as an acceptable treat after four of them had been used to administer The Dog’s worming tablets the day before.

Lesley got home in time for me to be released for an appointment at my GP surgery. Nothing serious. I’d opted into having a precautionary scan the NHS has introduced for something men my age are at risk of.

With the ultrasound completed and the All Clear given, I headed off to the gym. Once again, deadlifts were cut from the program as the knots in my hamstrings were back. Or maybe they never went. Exploring the limits of my bench press and then some Nasty Pump for my arms and shoulders were a more than satisfactory substitute.

From there to The Home. Mum was awake and alert when I walked into her room. I rearranged her table and armchair so she could see me better. She lifted her duvet and asked if I was getting into bed with her.

She talked nineteen to the dozen the whole time. She started with a very long and very detailed account of something that had happened at work. She talked as if it had happened that day but she gave up paid work outside the home when I was born in the late 1950s. During the day she had met a relative and it took me a while to work out that she wasn’t talking about a grandson but had actually been referring to Aunt Phyl. None of what she had said that would’ve given me some context had been distinct enough to be of any help. Most of the people involved were named and when she couldn’t remember a name I just told her not to worry as I knew who she was talking about.

She talked about Uncles Tony and Terry and it sounded like they were moving in with her. She was more than happy that Terry would be there. Much, much less so that Tony would. I told her that if she thought it would be a problem then I would speak to Juliette about it as she could put a stop to anything she didn’t want. She didn’t look convinced. It seemed like a done deal to her.

I was fairly sure the conversation drifted off to someone else and I was reasonably sure that the person she was talking about was female but so much of what she said had been indistinct. The only words that were distinct were “They took advantage of me”. And just to make sure I’d heard properly, she said it again.

It had been a long time since she’d said anything this disturbing. When she did it last time I had a long talk with Juliette about it. She had, obviously, seen something like this before. When memory is failing it seems that memories that had been suppressed for years or even decades return to the surface.

I didn’t respond to Mum about this. It wasn’t clear who she was talking about and it wasn’t clear whether the advantage taken was financial or physical and I didn’t ask. I couldn’t even be sure whether it was an event that had really happened or not. But the pattern of the conversation leading up to the comment was similar to last time.

Just like last time, I was dumbfounded. I just sat there waiting for her to let the thought go and move on to something else. 

Mum’s monologue returned to Aunt Phyl. Or so I thought. What Mum said Phyl had been doing and what Mum said she had been saying to her seemed really odd especially when Mum said she told her to get off the chair and sit on the floor. It took ages for me to work out that she wasn’t talking about Aunt Phyl. She was talking about Aunt Phyl’s dog. I do have a very faint memory of her having a dog. I wasn’t 100% sure but I thought it may have been a small poodle. Mum told the Other People it was a poodle.

There was a lot of talk about dogs after that and I became less and less involved in the conversation. I began to wonder whether some of the Other People in the room were actually dogs. The conversation was highly entertaining for Mum and the Other People were making her laugh which was more than I had managed.

While all this was going on I did actually get a few words in. I mentioned that Brother was wondering whether she would be up to doing another WhatsApp call. Almost all of her reply was unintelligible and the only words I could make out were “He’s a cocky little perisher!”.

Both sisters got a mention by name too. The only person not mentioned was Nicholas. This was the first visit for a few days where I hadn’t been told to speak to him. In fact she hadn’t given me any indication at all who she thought I was. And I didn’t ask.

Eventually, she got to the point where she was fighting to stay awake so I told her Lesley had sent a message to say my tea was ready. That woke her up. She became quite upset.

“Alright Mum, I can ask her to keep it warm for a few minutes..” I said, and sat down again.

She promptly started ignoring me and talked to the Other People.

On my way out, Audrey waved at me. She had something vital to tell me. While she was working out what she needed to say, there was a commotion behind me as Eleanor yelled at the top of her voice..

“Haven’t you got nice legs!”

Just at that moment, Al was walking up the corridor with a gentleman who, having heard this, stopped, looked me up and down and smiled.

“She’s not wrong, is she!” I said.

Another weird visit.

Bloody hell.

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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