Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 2 Jul, 2024

Tuesday

Another long day for Lesley and another trip to see her dad. Getting any meaningful information out of him about what’s causing his ‘toilet mishaps’ is mind-bendingly difficult. We can’t tell whether he’s just too slow getting to the toilet due to being so weak and wobbly or whether he’s eating something that’s upsetting his stomach. If I had to guess I’d say it was the latter. His appetite is so low now that food is going off in the fridge before he’s eaten it. He’s eating it anyway because he can’t see well enough and his senses of smell and taste aren’t good enough. Throwing food that’s mouldy and half-finished bottles of rank milk out has become one of the routine chores at the start of every visit.

But, when asked, all he says to us is “I’m fine.”

That’s not what he says to the team at his day centre though. They’re aware of his aches and pains and his admissions that he isn’t coping. He’s not aware that they report what he says back here though. It’s a challenge to act on information received without letting him suspect that he’s being grassed up.

Consequently, I didn’t get to The Home until about half an hour before the end of the day shift.

“Hello Mum! How are you?”

“Who is it?”

“It’s Nick.”

She looked puzzled.

“NICHOLAS!!”

“Good”

And then…

“I didn’t drink my tea tonight”

“Did you let it go cold? Well, you’ve got a milkshake here…”

“No”

“How about some squash?”

“No”

“Shall I see if I can find someone to make some tea then?”

“Yeah. Go on! Quick!! Make yourself useful!”

Reggie and Sean were on duty in the lounge.

“Heeey!! Nick!! Your mum’s on fire today. She told Sean that there was a lion in the bed.!”

“A lion?”

“Yeah. A lion.” confirmed Sean.

Reggie said he’d asked her how I was.

“Haven’t seen him for days. Not since Sunday.”

Suddenly, everyone was talking at me at once. Everyone except Audrey. She was asleep in her chair.

“Is that a new kilt Nick?” – No, I just tend not to wear this one when I’m walking The Dog or when I’m in the workshop.

“My husband was Scotch!” – No he wasn’t. That’s a drink or a brand of adhesive tape. I don’t think I said that out loud.

“How much do you weigh?”

That was Eleanor.

“Just over 100 kilos. I was 102 kilos earlier this week.”

She looked confused. Everyone outside of a gym does.

“I don’t know what that is in old money. Roughly speaking it’s Too Bloody Much” I added to clarify.

“Right. I’m going back to my Mum. And you, Eleanor, I’ll see you in a minute.”

She giggled like a little girl and blew me a kiss.

“Eleanor!! Behave yourself!!” said Reggie.

Within a couple of minutes of me getting back to Mum Sean appeared with her tea and, fair play to her, she drank nearly all of it.

“He makes a good cup of tea, doesn’t he Mum.”

“Yeah”

She seemed to be in a good mood today in spite of still being stiff and sore from having been immobile for two or three days. Very chatty, unusually clear, reasonably cheerful and she was well into Loads Of Other People In The Room With Us territory. Only one was identified. Her dad was there and he was asleep.

The hallucinations weren’t vivid enough yet to be able to identify every body or every thing. There was a lot of pointing out of the window and saying “What’s that?” or pointing across the room and saying “Who’s that?”. There was one Other Person she recognised though…

 “Ann? Ann! I’m so sorry. So very, very sorry.”

I don’t know who Ann is/was or what had happened to her but it was clearly important because she said it twice.

There were definitely children in bed with her. She said several times the baby was “the most important one”. She used her Very Serious Face to make sure I got the point. She told me not to forget to take it with me when I went. I’d only been there half an hour when she “Right! Off you go!”

I hadn’t got far when I heard her shouting “John! JOHN!!”

“What is it Mum?”

“You forgot the baby!”

I thought that was interesting. A rare mention of my dad.

On second thoughts, she had an Uncle John. She probably meant him.

Impatience and hallucinations starting before she was physically mobile. That was unusual too.

I was left in a quandary. What if I pretended to take the baby but she could still see it there?

“I’m going to leave the baby there with you Mum and I’ll go and get a pram for it. I’ll be right back.”

“Oh. Alright. Hurry up!”

Eleanor was in the corridor trying to find someone to make her a sandwich. She’d heard Mum shouting.

“Is she alright?”

“Yeah, I’d forgotten to take the baby with me, that’s all”

“Oh, well she can have one of mine” she said, gesturing to all the soft toys on her bed.

“That’s very kind of you! And how are they all? They all look like they’re asleep”

“Asleep!? No. They’re all dead.”

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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