This is a photo of Mum and I on her 70th birthday. It sits on the windowsill in the front room. I often find myself looking at it. The photo was taken ten years ago, give or take a month. These days I find it hard to match the Mum in photos like this with the Mum I visit. And yet, in spite of the exceptionally grumpy greeting I received when one of the carers announced my arrival on Mothering Sunday (“Oh God”, rolling her eyes) she was still definitely, defiantly, my old Mum. She opened her card, after a fashion, and seemed pleased with the flowers I’d taken. And she laughed, and laughed, and laughed. But, much more importantly, Mum held my hand. Recently, she’s been reluctant to share any contact but, yesterday, she held out her hand to me. Little things mean such a lot, to paraphrase one of the songs we used to listen to.
On my last visit, Mum scarcely registered my arrival and I’m not sure she knew the grinning fool sitting and singing in front of her. I left feeling hollow, but yesterday, there was a smile on my face as I walked back to my car. Dementia, cruel dementia, plays with your emotions but for once, holding Mum’s hand, I didn’t mind.