I can’t remember the last time I had a conversation with Mum. I mean, a real conversation when I say something and Mum responds, talking about the same thing. I talk to Mum and she will occasionally say something in reply, but the two statements rarely have much in common.
So, imagine my surprise when one of Mum’s carers Emma told me that she and Mum had been chatting about family caravan holidays. Don’t get me wrong, I was delighted to hear that Mum could still recall times past in general, if not in detail. But as I thought of the number of times I’d talked to her about occasions in our past, hoping I’d see a faint glimmer of recognition in her eyes, but seeing only a blank expression, I felt a little left out, perhaps even a bit jealous.
Another of Mum’s carers Anna told me she thought Mum was doing well.
“You can always chat to her. She’s still in there somewhere.”
Why can she chat to Emma and Anna, and not to me? The answer’s obvious, of course. Mum sees them almost every day. They are part of her life in a way I can no longer be. And I’m so grateful for that.
Mum used to be a very tactile person. A hug, a hand on the arm, an arm around the shoulders – indelible signs of her love for her family. These days, Mum sits with her arms crossed or locked in her lap. As I left yesterday, though, I told her I love her, as I always do:
“You’re very special Mum. You always will be.”
She reached out and touched my hand, smiling that smile, the smile which lit up my childhood.
Anna is right. She’s still in there somewhere.