Sunday, 16 December 2007

good-bye to all that

I was worried that Mum would misinterpret our return to her apartment, or that she would simply refuse to leave this time around. Within minutes of our arrival on Friday afternoon, indeed, she asked me if I was going to drive all the way up that night or wait for the next day. My heart sank.

At the same time, though, she was talking about her next home, but I had to correct her, since she often confused the place where she is receiving day-care with the one that we're aiming for her to move into. I am scrupulously careful not to press one or the other onto her. But I have been listening carefully to her rather tangential announcements and I can say that though the day-care one has great food and lovely staff, Mum thinks that the residents bicker with one another too much. Her feelings about the other Home have coalesced into a fondness for the nice man who "asked me all those questions". I'm conscious that she didn't meet any other residents there, though.

We spent Saturday morning going through Mum's closets, choosing items that she still thinks she'll wear again. I had to be pretty ruthless with her, keeping her sitting down and focussed on the task. At times I worried that she was saying "yes" or "no" alternately, or in response to some cue in my voice or expression (I tried to keep both neutral). The whole thing was too "Devil Wears Prada/Ugly Betty" for my taste and I was relieved by how quickly we got through it. I took huge amounts of very nice clothing to the charity shop.

When it came to what personal items Mum wanted to take with her, I was shocked by how unsentimental she was. I had to press her wedding photos and those of my nieces on her. The rest Mum said I should sell. I have a feeling that I'll be returning to retrieve some more items before I clear the flat for sale.

Going out for a breath of air on Friday night, I noticed that the residents were having a big party in the communal lounge. I saw several who had greeted us on our arrival that afternoon. I was pretty disgusted that none of these people had come to Mum's door to include her. This morning, when I was packing the car, I asked Mum if she wanted to say good-bye to anyone. "No" she replied, but when I mentioned specific names she changed her mind. Evidently, her first good-bye snowballed and by my fourth or fifth journey down the long corridor Mum was part of a group of old ladies moving from door to door. Some took me aside and told me how glad they were that someone was doing something for Mum.

When I had finished, I suggested that Mum said good-bye to the flat, but she didn't give it more than a cursory glance. I don't think sentiment has survived in her brain.


BigAssBelle said...

wow. my 52 year old sister has this already :-) complete lack of sentimental attachment to anything. i, on the other hand, am too much attached to too many things.

good that she could easily let go, though. made it easier for you, it sounds.

Greg said...

Yes, I noticed this about Mum about 8 years ago, when my Dad died and I had to get more involved. Looking back now, it's clear that Mum was already pretty far down the track to where she is now, but I either didn't understand or didn't want to see what was happening and I just found her behaviour selfish and irritating. But the complete absence of sentiment was there already, as evidenced when she gave almost everything away to a "helpful" man who disappeared shortly afterwards. And she's not said thank you for years, either, which rankles. I have to remind myself that it's not her fault - just a part of her brain where the bulb has gone out.