Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 3 Jul, 2024

Wednesday

I struggled today.

Mum was already talking to her Other People when I walked in her room. There were times when I thought she was talking to me but, more often than not, I was wrong about that. It didn’t take long to work out that one of her Other People was standing behind me. 

It didn’t help that I could barely understand a word she said. Usually, I’m able to tell by her tone and expression which of the non-committal supportive platitudes that are available I should use. Some days, my success rate isn’t great. This was one of those days.

Mid-way through the visit Mum said something that was probably an instruction. It wasn’t until she’d finished hat she was saying that I realised she was talking to me. I was too slow in coming up with a response.

“Go on! Do as you’re told!”

“Sorry Mum. What do you want me to do?”

“Do as you’re told!”

“I don’t know what you want me to do”

“Do. As. You’re. TOLD!”

“Alright. I’ll do it in a minute.”

“Oh blimey”

I gave it a minute and that was ample time for her to forget what she’d told me to do.

But, when she wasn’t exasperated with me, she was cheerful and mostly comfortable. She had a good drink of her coffee and even held the cup herself. She enjoyed the company of her Other People and was singing with them. It wasn’t the first time that her Other People had been more interesting, engaging and entertaining than I had.

After posting my update to the family chat, Brother asked…

“How was she when you told her you were off home?”

I said I thought she was probably relieved. Early on in the visit she had put her hands to her face and said “Oh my eyes!”. She had been rubbing them and the left one looked sore. She’s had a series of eye infections – she was discharged from hospital with one – and I thought I ought to try and get it looked at.

“Is your eye sore Mum?”

“No?”

The “Why are you asking?” bit was implied strongly but not said.

“Should I get someone to have a look at it?”

“No”

I didn’t want to badger her so I would leave the subject for a few minutes before asking the next question to give her time to forget that I’d already asked her. Something wasn’t quite right though. She’d put her hands to her face again or squirm a bit. But each time I asked if her eye was sore, if she had a headache or stomach ache, if her bum was sore, she’d deny anything was wrong.

The end of the visit came when she sent me out to ask somebody something. I couldn’t make out who or what she was talking about. I told her it would take me a while to find the right person and said that I’d see her tomorrow.

“Alright!” she said and carried on talking to her Other People.

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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