When I listened again more closely, I could hear that there had been someone with Mum helping her use the phone. Mum had probably been thrown into confusion when my answer message began, and she had told the staff member "this isn't working."
I begin to see a pattern now: I misread the signs, projecting my own fears and concerns onto Mum's somewhat Delphic utterances, and then sometimes I am granted a clearer understanding.
Yesterday was a case in point. Now, I've felt conflicted ever since the day I took Mum to live at this Care Home, chiefly because she was simultaneously offered a place at the home nearer me, the one where she had received day care. In my estimation, the place near me was far nicer, better organised, more genteel and genuinely warm and caring. Without wanting to sound a snob, it felt more like my Mum's sort of place - a Country Club, if you will. The only trouble was that they didn't cater to those of more advanced Dementia than Mum, and Mum is likely to deteriorate further at any time. Oh, and the place was too far away from other relatives for them to visit easily.
So, since then I've found myself holding Mum's new home up to comparison with the 'nicer' one, and I've been hypersensitive to every discrepancy in care that I can see, wracking myself with guilty feelings. Anyway, yesterday I arrived at 1pm and took Mum out to a restaurant for Lunch. I had decided that we should go shoe shopping afterwards (Mum had been complaining about her one pair of shoes hurting). As we got into the car to go to the Mall, Mum said: "I hope you're not taking me back to that place."
My heart took a dive, somersaulting expertly on its way down into an Olympic-sized pool of misery.
"What place is that, Mum?" (Where did THAT question come from?)
"You know... the place where you talked to them and... er.. I don't know how to describe it."
After several attempts, it finally transpired that Mum was talking about the 'nicer' Care Home. She told me that she had never felt that she fitted in there, and that she felt the residents excluded her somehow. She went on to say that she was happier where she was now and that she particularly enjoyed the food.
I kept a straight face, but inside my brain someone was reworking the layout and doing extensive renovations.