I paid my weekly visit to Mum this morning. My presence seems to put her a little on edge these days. Conversation simply doesn’t flow and I end up talking about what I’ve been up to, with Mum nodding or murmuring assent with, I fear, little or no comprehension. Last time, I took a copy of Hello magazine with me because there was a Royal feature – isn’t there always? – and Mum can identify William and Kate. We started looking at it page-by-page but quickly, Mum was turning over five pages at a time, as if it were a race to reach the end. She won, possibly breaking her own personal best in the process.
Today, I gave Hello a miss. I’d been to watch an Olympic football quarter-final last night and I’m going to Olympic Park on Monday. Mum is aware the Olympics are on and I thought that might tease some engagement. Sadly not. Soon, Mum was standing up and I knew my time with her was up. It’s as if she knows we should be talking but doesn’t know what to say. This might trouble her but it certainly make her restless. Even the oft-repeated stories about others in the home are no longer trotted out. By the way, the care home seems to be organising its own Olympics – I sincerely hope the International Olympic Committee don’t find out or they’ll be charged with breach of copyright! Mum won the Olympic tennis on Tuesday, though she has no idea how. I’m not sure either, but I doubt it went to a tiebreak.
But back to today’s visit. It prompted me to ask myself, not for the first time, who are these visits designed to benefit? Am I providing a friendly face and some company for Mum (as I’d like to believe), am I keeping an unspoken promise to my late father or am I doing it for myself, because I feel I should? I so hope it’s the first of those three but I always leave with a heavy heart and that nagging question buzzing in my head. Don’t get me wrong – I will continue to spend time with Mum, however short that time is, for as long as she lives. It’s more than duty. I want to see her but I can’t deny I really want to see the “old” Mum, the one who was always so interested in what I had to say, even if it was a detailed minute-by-minute analysis of how West Brom had managed to slip to honourable defeat again. She was so patient with me as I grew up, as I made my way in the world and now I must show the same patience with her.
She might have little or nothing to say to me but, she’s still my Mum, and I still love her so much.