Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 8 Jul, 2024

Monday

The Manager was leaving The Home as I arrived.

“Hello Nick! What? No skirt, sorry, I mean kilt today?”

“No. Yesterday’s one is filthy. We took The Dog on a wet walk this morning. I mean, I’m normally dirty when I come here but today even I was too embarrassed to come here in it.”

I could see tea being served as I walked past the dining room. I’d mis-timed my visit.

As I got out of the lift the first thing I heard was “I’M FED UP!!”

It sounded like Eleanor. I had to walk past her room to get to Mum.

“Who’s that!? Oh, it’s you.”

“Good afternoon Eleanor! And how are you today?”

“I’m fed up.”

“I gathered that.”

“I want somebody to take me home but they won’t let me go and I haven’t had anything to eat. I’m fed up.”

“I’m sure you won’t have to wait very long for your tea. Let me know if they don’t come with something to eat. I’ll just be in here with my mum.” 

“Alright. But I’m fed up!” she reminded me.

“Hello Mum!”

“Eric?”

“No, it’s Nick… IT’S NICHOLAS!!”

“Oh good. You haven’t got to shoot off anywhere particular have you?”

“No, there’s no rush today. But I will have to go to the shop to get something for our teas. Lesley was going to go this morning but she’s been on the phone all day about her dad.”

“Oh blimey!”

Her bed had been adjusted and the small pillows that are normally on either side of her to stop her falling over were on her visitor’s chair. I moved them into a pile on a chest of drawers so I could sit down. Several times during the visit she’d ask

“Who’s that over there? Is that my Mum?”

She was chatting away and then, out of nowhere, she asked

“I wonder where Nicholas has got to. I haven’t seen him.”

I tried the Go Out Of The Room Come Back In And Reintroduce Yourself trick but it didn’t work. It seemed to confuse her even more.

Sean brought her tea in. Half a ham & cheese sandwich, a small pot of yoghurt and a cup of tea. It took a while but she ate most of it.

“Can you read to me?”

“Of course! This story is called The Swimming Lesson. Stop me if you’ve heard it before.”

She didn’t remember it. At a rough guess I’d say I’ve read this story every week since last summer.

A couple of paragraphs from the end of the story she suddenly said

“Oh! It’s a story about that vicar!”

I took the chance to tell her that I’d been chatting to the vicar of the church where Mum was church warden. She likes to be kept in the loop on how Mum’s doing. Mum remembered her clearly and was pleased I was keeping in touch.

“She’s lovely isn’t she?”

“Yes, she is lovely.” she agreed

She talked some more but was getting more tired and less intelligible.

“You’d better go and see your Mum.” she said

“But you’re my Mum.”

“Am I?”

I let it go. I’d confused her enough. She’d been cheerful and chatty the whole time but terribly confused.

“I’ll be back tomorrow. I might have Sue with me.”

“Sue? Has she still got the baby?”

“Yeah” I replied in spite of not knowing what she meant.

“Good”

As I was leaving I heard someone call out “Goodnight Sir!” behind me. I turned around. It was one of the nurses.

“Oh! It’s you! I wasn’t sure. You’re… You’re wearing shorts.”

“Yeah. No kilt today. Yesterday’s one is filthy. We took The Dog on a wet walk this morning. I mean, I’m normally dirty when I come here but today even I was too embarrassed to come here in it.” 

I’ll have to find a clean kilt tomorrow. People don’t recognise me when I’m not wearing one.

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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