Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 10 Jun, 2024

Monday

After having spent the entire weekend asleep, Mum was starting to come round today.

“Hello Mum! It’s Nick”

She did respond but I couldn’t tell you what she said.

“How are you feeling?”

“I’m not very well.”

“Ah, OK. What sort of Not Very Well are you?”

Another indistinct response.

“Are you just feeling very tired?”

“Yeah. Very tired.”

“That’s OK. That’s perfectly normal. Nothing to worry about…”

I think I said that with enough conviction to reassure her. It certainly looked like it.

She felt warm and nodded when I asked if she was comfortable. She also nodded when I asked if she’d had enough to eat today. She didn’t refuse a drink when I offered her one. Her afternoon smoothie had almost all gone which was something.

“I wish you could stay with me all the time.”

“Well, that’s a bit tricky isn’t it? But I’m here every day. Rain or shine.”

She smiled at that.

“It’s really quiet in here today Mum”

She nodded. There’s hardly anyone left. When I was first told the schedule for the transfer I thought it was good that Mum was one of the last to go. It would be good to have a few go before her so they could iron out the wrinkles in the process before they had to move her. But it means that The Home is deadly quiet now. Everyone is certain that the traffic past Mum’s room is stimulating for her. They have even chosen her new room to take that into account at the new home. Now there’s hardly anyone going past. Fewer residents means less laundry. Less laundry means less traffic. Less traffic means a greater feeling of isolation. That’s not great. 

Mum still wasn’t very mobile. Again, that’s normal for the first day awake in a cycle. Having been sound asleep and not having moved a muscle for two days would make anyone’s joints stiff.

I told her that Eldest Sister and her two youngest had been over at the weekend.

“Good” she said.

I tried not to make it sound like they’d been to see her and that she’d slept through the whole visit and missed it. I had wanted to give her the chance to remember if she was able and not worry if she couldn’t and that seemed to work.

“Shall I read to you for a bit Mum?”

“Yes. Yes please.”

Those were the clearest words she said all evening.

After a couple of chapters she looked like she had dozed off completely and didn’t respond when I asked if she was still awake. Predictably, she woke up when I said I’d leave her in peace and would see her tomorrow.

On my way out, I saw the night shift getting sorted in the office.

“How’s Mum today?” Jess asked.

“Just beginning to wake up”

“Good. Good.”

And then…

“I was talking to her on Thursday, I think, and I asked her when Nicky was last in to see her. She said he was here yesterday.”

“Yeah, well, she could say that any day and she’d be right”

They all laughed

“Sometimes I’m not convinced she knows it’s me. She’ll start telling me that no-one’s been to see her. Not even Nicholas”

They all sounded concerned.

“I’ve tried going out of the room, going back in and telling her it’s me. She knows it’s me then but she asks if I’ve seen the man who was there before.”

More concern and some laughter.

By this point I was encircled and it reinforced how tiny they all are. I’m not small myself. 193cm and 100Kg. But I feel more than twice the size of each of them. It makes me wonder how they manage to move residents around. But they do and they’re extremely good at it. I hope they’re all going to transfer across to the new home. I haven’t got in in me to ask which of them will be losing their job. 

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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