Sunday, 12 March 2017

Just the ticket


I’ve not been writing for six months now. Mum’s gone downhill - hardly surprising after over a decade with Alzheimer's but a shock all the same. I’ve been a bit in denial, thinking it's just a blip. That she’ll suddenly perk up, back to her energetic self. That she won't be constantly exhausted, physically and mentally. That we’ll be able to walk round art galleries, take train trips and rummage in charity shops. Rather than tiny outings followed by a cup of tea and a long lie down. Actually more like a short lie down, more confusion, another lie down, then back to the rest home. 

Yesterday I scooped Mum up and took her shopping. What that means is I drove to the shops and persuaded Mum to struggle out of the car for brief forays into stores. The kind of places Mum used to love to explore. After less than five minutes, Mum’s about to keel over. I ask for the resting chair. It’s simple. If the shop assistant finds one we stay. I might even buy something. If they don't, we leave.

After three shops we give up, deciding to drive to my place for a sit down and a nice cup of tea. “Is there any other sort?” asks Mum.

We approach the house and a sad looking person shuffles, hunchbacked, across the road. “Looks a bit depressed,” I say brightly. I’m driving slowly now, searching for a park.
“I’m depressed,” says Mum.
“Are you?” I say, struggling with the small parking space and a suitable reply. “About what in particular?”
“About the lack of a future,” says Mum.

It seems important not to dismiss this. To stay with it even though I have no idea what to say. I park the car. “It must be hard, being 88 …”
“I’m not depressed about being old. It’s just that … I’m not good at anything anymore.” Mum gazes out the window. “I’ve used up my ticket.”
“Used up your ticket. Used up your ticket!” I can’t stop saying it. I have images of fun fairs and Eurorail passes. Mum gives me a look. “That’s sooo good, ‘You’ve used up your ticket’.” 

We look at each other. “You’re such good company,” I say. Mum smiles and squeezes my arm. And I think about how much Mum loves to see me every Saturday, how she always notices my hair and my clothes, how she picks up on my mood. How she asks about the children realising all the time she has no idea where they live or what they're doing. How, in the moment, Mum has lost none of her conversational spark.

*****

We’ve sat on the sofa, drunk tea and eaten tomato sandwiches. Mum’s preparing to go home, fussing about what she might have brought with her and whether she still has it. She’s not sure where we’re taking her - she’s tired and can't summon the rest home to mind. We’ve been out for less than two hours.

“I’ve had such a lovely day,” says Mum. She kisses my hair.
“So have I.”

6 comments:

  1. Oh sweetness. Your mum is so lovely! We learn so much from her. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Glad you posted. My mom (95) and I sometimes go out for an ice cream cone at the drive-thru and park under a shade tree. One of the best times! I'm going over now to do her meds and change her clocks (daylight savings time). Sounds like you and your mom still have that bond. ❤

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  4. I think I know Eleanor. If not, she is very like someone I do know with a wonderful daughter! Loved reading this anyway.

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  5. Thank you for sharing your Saturday with your Mom. My Mom lives with us and I am learning how to be present with her in this stage of her life.

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  6. Thank you so much.It helps a lot.

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