Mum's white hair and red face seemed cruelly mocked by her white blouse and red skirt.
I gave her my arm and we slowly made our way to her bedroom. I've never seen her move so slowly and in so much pain. I kicked myself for not buying her a 'walker' rather than this silly photo frame.
When we got to her room, I let her use the toilet in privacy, but she had to call me inside since she couldn't find the toilet paper or the toilet flush (she was turning to her right when both are to the left).
I sat next to Mum on her bed to show her the digital photo frame. The first picture that came up was one of Mum and my Dad. Mum poked the glass, leaving a smudge over his face.
To my horror, she asked: "Tell me, who's he?"
I died inside.
We watched just about all of the 400 or so photographs as they displayed. It was so difficult to keep Mum's attention on the slideshow, as she kept looking away to the bathroom door. I found myself announcing what we were seeing, because hearing her pathetic guesses was heartbreaking. By the end she was getting better at spotting childhood "Greg" but she occasionally turned to me when my Dad came up and said "that's you, of course." Mostly, it seemed, she just wanted to go to the toilet again.
Afterwards, I got 2 plates and some cutlery from the kitchen and I cut us each a slice of the cake I'd brought. It was a shame to cut into it, but it proved to be equally delicious as it was beautiful. Mum didn't use her fork but instead grabbed chunks of rich chocolate sponge and chocolate truffle sauce by hand and crammed them into her mouth, making a mess everywhere. When she had eaten most of her slice she became distressed looking down at her chocolaty hands and told me that she couldn't understand how they'd become so dirty. I fetched some napkins.
After cleaning her up and helping her down to the Lounge again, I started to feel very sad and I decided that I had to go. In any case, I was supposed to be at work this afternoon and it was already 4:30pm. I had a two-hour journey home ahead of me, followed by a delayed "afternoon shift" that would take me through to midnight or later.
On my way home I pondered my unhappiness. I realised that I had put myself through a LOT of stress to get every detail perfect for someone who could no longer appreciate these things. Who had I really been doing this for? Myself, maybe? Mum would have been happier to be taken out somewhere instead. It's late and I'm exhausted ... I'll have to come back to this.
* I have chosen photographs that make Mum look a LOT more lucid than she proved today because I just can't bear looking at the ones I've discarded.