Monday, 8 September 2014


Sometimes things start off so well that you fall into the trap of thinking everything’s going to be just peachy. Mum’s sitting in the upstairs lounge, legs crossed, reading the paper. All around, her fellow residents are staring straight ahead or dozing in the sun. She recognises me straight away, scrambles to her feet and falls into my arms.

Shall we go out? Absolutely!

By the time we set off it’s drizzling but Mum’s as happy as Larry. We’re beetling down the road, her favourite duet’s up loud on the stereo and we’re chatting about the grandkids. We arrive at my house to the usual Saturday chaos. Groceries and veggies to unpack and a bench full of unwashed dishes.

“Well dear, where shall we start?” Mum’s the world’s best housekeeper but lately things have got tricky.
To unpack groceries you need to know where stuff goes. Or how to figure things out.
To do the dishes, you need to sort the clean from the dirty. And not mix them up.

Then I spot the rhubarb. Perfect! Mum can chop that and put it in the pot while the rest of us sort the kitchen.

It’s amazing how much can go wrong with a once-familiar task. The leaves are going in as well as the stalks. Stop. The chopping takes strength that Mum no longer has. Change knives. The sharp blade is heading for her wrist. No!

“Obviously,” says Mum, “I can’t do anything right!”
She takes off her apron.
“Oh, no! It’s just ...a very dangerous knife/some very tough rhubarb/you're probably very tired…..”

Mum and I are on the sofa. She’s not angry now, just sad. Wondering what went wrong. Is it depression? Old age?
“Tell me, what is it?”
“Just some problems with your short-term memory."

“I want to die,” says Mum. “A fitful memory is a terrible thing."

rhubarb /’ru:ba:b/ n.
3a colloq. a murmurous conversation or noise, esp. the repetition of a word.
  b colloq. nonsense; worthless stuff.
4 colloq. a heated dispute.


  1. Great post! Can't wait for more.

  2. You're doing a great job with both your Mum and this blog. Keep it up!

  3. Ka pai love to keep reading

  4. Great blog. So relevant to so many people. Looking forward to reading more!

  5. Kia Ora, My friend - I love the stories they make me melt into my own thoughts of my mother and the things we never got to talk about the way you do - Just love it

  6. So moving. Thank you