It’s more than a month since I last posted. I could claim to have been too busy or that my creative juices, such as they are, have run dry. To be honest, though, I haven’t wanted to write anything which might have jinxed Mum’s early weeks in her new home. Silly, I know, but there it is. The early signs were encouraging but I didn’t want to commit any thoughts to laptop too soon.
So, why am I watching the bank holiday rain pour down, seeking inspiration while most good people are still taking advantage of a Monday morning lie-in? Well, today, my sister and I will start to clear out the house which Mum called home for more than 30 years. Mum has made it clear that she is content where she is. As early as a week after moving in, she told us that she didn’t think she’d be going home again and now, more than a month in, her returning to the house is unthinkable. My mother has quickly become institutionalized. She’d hate to read that but it’s true.
I called in at “home” on Saturday. Her handbag, one she rarely used, is still sitting on the sofa, just as it was when we took her to the care home for the first time. There are still unused toilet rolls littering the house – Mum liked to use toilet paper for the few household tasks she remembered to do – washing up and drying up. It’s as if she left this morning and yet, seeing her where she is now, it somehow seems as if she’s been there for months and months.
I’ll visit Mum on the way to the house. (Note to self, I must find another way of referring to the former family home. It is more than just a house but no longer a home.) “Oh, it’s you again”, she might say, despite that fact that I haven’t visited for more than a week. She’ll be pleased to see me but irritated that another resident, further down Alzheimer’s Avenue, will insist on staying with us and joining in the conversation. “Oh, she’s such a pain. Go away!” I think, in a funny way, Mum takes strength from being with people on whom dementia has taken a tighter hold. At times, she’s almost the big sister in a large family. We’ll sit and chat, though the conversation is unlikely to flow easily. After about half-an-hour, Mum will be ready to return to her new life and I’ll leave. It’s settling in to a pattern already. Perhaps I’m becoming institutionalized too. So what if I am? Mum is content and as I arrive and go, I can still detect the sparkle in her eye. At moments like those, she’s still my Mum and I’m so grateful for that.