It’s weeks since Mum said anything to me. The smiles, the laughter, they’re still there but Mum no longer really communicates in words. In some ways, it’s the hardest thing to accept about this bloody disease. Mum, who taught me to speak “properly”, who fostered my love of reading and words, now says nothing.
And yet, on Christmas Day, she did speak to me. I turned up, with a rather tatty all-in-one Father Christmas hat and beard combo. It’s the height of festive fashion in this part of the world. No Christmas sweater for me thank you very much. Mum found it just as amusing as I’d hoped. Peals of laughter – such a sweet, sweet sound. One of the very, very few upsides of dementia is that you can tell the same joke more than once. Never one to take my eye off a gift horse, I donned said hat and beard again and again. Cue gales of giggles.
“Oh, you are a terror, aren’t you!”
It must be more than 40 years since Mum said that to me. And I don’t remember her saying it much then. (I must have been a boring, sensible child.) She repeated it several times but didn’t say anything else. She was unmoved by my gift, which I had to open for her. She seemed oblivious to Christmas altogether. But I’m a terror, aren’t I?
As far as Christmas presents go, I’ll happily settle for that.