Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 1 May, 2024

Wednesday

Mum was starting to wake up when I got to The Home. A shorter Sleepy phase phase than ‘normal’. She was uncomfortable, unhappy and uncommunicative. That is normal. Normal for this stage anyway.

But my arrival at The Home had caused a bit of a stir. There was some amusement and even some double-takes from the staff. There was even some gentle ribbing. As usual, when any mockery is being dished out, Reggie was the ringleader.

None of the residents recognised me.

I was wearing a suit and tie.

I normally wear whatever I’ve been wearing all day and I would be covered in the dirt accumulated while walking The Dog and then whatever work I’d been able to get done in the workshop. Being teased by them was actually a nice feeling. I know they tease each other and being included in that made me feel part of their ‘gang’.

I’d had a day out in Bristol for the funeral of the mother of one my dearest friends. I’d known Tim since we were 18. He was the Best Man at my wedding. We were at his wedding. I’ve known all his kids since they were new-borns and I am godfather to his son. And Tim’s Mum and Dad were both just the loveliest people. But now they’re both gone.

I’d gone on my own. Lesley had to stay behind because y’know, Dad and that.

Even though it had been absolutely eons since I’d last seen most of them they were just wonderful at preventing me feeling like a spare part while the family grieved their loss. We shared our experiences of dealing with a family member confined to a nursing home and with their advancing dementia.

I learned a lot from them and left feeling less isolated, less fearful that I’m doing things wrong. It’s why I made this public and haven’t fought against encouragement to keep going.

If I’m able to handle Mum’s passing when it comes with a tenth of the grace and strength that Tim and his family did then I think I’ll have done pretty well.

Another sense I was left with at the end of the day was the disbelief at how I managed to do days like that day after day – drive for two hours, do a full day’s work, drive for two hours home and then get up and do it again the next day – for years. No wonder it burned me out.

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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