Mum has been saying for months that I should take her out for day-trips when I come down, but she has shown little enthusiasm since I’ve been here on this visit. I decide that we should drive to the coast (about 25 minutes away) and have lunch down there. I pick a town I know to be on flat terrain, and which I know is less bustling than others, and we set off. At the seaside, Mum shows no interest in the views, the pleasant surroundings, or in anything at all. There are a good selection of cafés and restaurants and I ask Mum what she’d like to eat. I see her scan the shop fronts in view. She starts reading out notices and store names that she can see. I step in front of her and ask her to think what she would like to eat and say that we’ll find a place that serves it. She can’t think of anything she’d like.
I suggest “Fish and Chips” and she pulls a face.
“Oh no, I don’t like Fish and Chips.”
“That’s odd, Mum, because you told me a couple of days ago that you hadn’t been able to have Fish and Chips for ages and that you loved it. You certainly tucked into your Fish and Chips on that day!”
“Yes, I’d like some Fish and Chips”, she says.
After our meal and an ice cream which turns into an ordeal of keeping the drips off Mum’s clothes, we wander back to the car via some shops, buying Mum a gold watch, some items from the chemist and some clothing. In Marks & Spencer, Mum can’t find her size on a rack of clothing. I ask her what size she’s looking for and she says “12”. I help her to see the many many size 12 items right in front of her. Clutching them to her breast, she looks vacant for a moment and then says, “Perhaps we could ask an assistant?”
“What for, Mum?”
“Size 18, of course!”
I suggest that since Dad’s grave is nearby we should take that in on the way home. Mum agrees without any sign of interest. At the cemetery we haven’t walked a hundred yards before Mum says, “Shall we go back to the car now?”
“Mum, we haven’t got to where Dad is buried, we haven’t seen the tree that you planted or the memorial stone you paid for.”
Mum says she’s going back to find a toilet, and I wander on feeling a little aggrieved that she’s not interested in being here when I thought I was here for her.
On the journey home, I ask Mum what her wishes are regarding her funeral and burial, assuming she will say she wants to be placed with Dad. She tells me that she has no idea.