Monday, 13 August 2007

calling and calling

As it was raining, I went to the cinema this afternoon. I sat there watching a musical, thinking, "Maybe I'll take Mum to see this when I'm down visiting her."

When I came out of the cinema and turned on my mobile phone, I had a text message to tell me that there were voice messages waiting for me. I called my voicemail to find that in the course of the last hour, Mum had called my mobile 11 times. I started listening to the messages. Each was about the same letter she had discovered in her pile of correspondence referring to her car tax [she called it "an envelope that is telling me..."]. The first few messages were her reading out the letter, beginning each time with an explanation as if she was mentioning it for the first time. In later messages she added "are you there?.... can you hear me?". Then came the angrier, "I want you to call me back right away!" and "Look, why aren't you talking to me?"

I rang my home phone and there were a further 5 messages waiting for me there. That's 16 calls in 60 minutes, or roughly one every 3 or 4 minutes. She must have called almost immediately again each time after putting the phone down. Some of the messages, also, involved periods where she had put the phone down on the table and walked away and I could hear her shuffling through papers. Then she would press the buttons to phone me again, not realising that she was still connected. She's losing her accuracy with the simplest model of phone on the market.

I called Mum and remonstrated with her about the messages. I explained to her that there's no need to leave more than one, which I told her that she used to know. I'm afraid I said that this was upsetting me as it seemed a sign of her failing abilities. She ran with the word "upset" and tried to explain her extraordinary behaviour as coming from her own "upset", but I was really too angry to let her get away with this. I forced her to write down an instruction not to do anything about her car tax and that I would deal with it when I came down later in the week. I had done the same this morning, but that note seems to have become lost in her morass of papers. This one, I insisted, should remain by the phone.

I'm very worried about how upset and angry I became with her. I keep telling myself that this comes from fear, that I am scared whenever her behaviour shows evidence of a new dip in her abilities, but I still can't forgive myself for shouting at a helpless old lady. I'm worried how I'll be with her when I visit.

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