Wednesday 20 December 2000


I just had a very annoying call from Mum.

Ostensibly the call was in order to sympathise with me about having to get to Gatwick so early on Christmas day. Actually, the call was to let me know that she didn't want to drive the 15 miles to pick me up from the airport that morning, although it was said in other ways. I hadn't intended to ask her anyway - there's a train. What upsets me about this is that her motives and thinking are so blatantly obvious, but she won't admit it. I've accepted for a long time that her dishonesty is unconscious, but it's dishonesty all the same and it's so obvious that even she should be able to see it.

In order to start her argument, Mum actually managed to say what a pity it was that I was coming down at all, as she was planning to stay with a friend from Saturday onwards over Christmas. Here I was going OUT OF MY WAY TO SEE HER THIS Christmas AT HER REQUEST. I booked this holiday on the 4th November, way before she'd made any plans with any friend. She even suggested that I check into a hotel at Gatwick for Christmas eve. Fantastic!

Wednesday 16 August 2000


Mum rang on Monday night to tell me that she'd told her friend about my promotion and how her friend had asked why I hadn't sent Mum a bunch of flowers. Mum asked me to send a bunch and offered to give me the number of a firm who would deliver chrysanthemums from Jersey and told me how she'd sent some to someone else from this firm and she had said that they were very nice.

I was at a loss for words.

I spent the rest of the week working hard and grateful that I wasn't home early enough to answer any phone calls. Today I arranged for some flowers to be sent, because after all she has had a hard year, but am I wrong to find the request a bit odd? I mean, shouldn't I be the one to get the gift?

Wednesday 12 July 2000

books and memories

So a few weeks ago Mum's complaining about the books from the living room which are "strewn" in the back hall. I suggest she puts them into my room if they're getting in the way. She says that she's thinking about getting rid of them, to which I quickly say: "Please don't get rid of any before I get a chance to look through them. I know that there's lots in the living room that I'd like to take!" She agrees.

Today Mum mentions in passing that she had a man come down from the second-hand bookshop and that he took away quite a few of the books that were (still) "strewn" in the back hall. I get really upset at this - these are my memories, books on the countries we lived in during my childhood, plus books that I've always read or wanted to read and always expected to be around, books I expected to inherit and wouldn't have dreamt of taking away unasked. She actually said sorry (most unusual). I'd been trying to lift her mood, which was pretty low, but I couldn't help myself telling her how upset I was by what she'd done and I made her look up the number of the bookshop so that I can ring them tomorrow. She says, in mitigation that having them reminds her of Japan and Dad and that she doesn't want to be reminded. What's next, then, the furniture? The pictures? Why is she spending another £5000 on work a house that will also inevitably remind her of these things, and which will get progressively empty as she sells off our memories?

I am a little peeved, to say the least. Most of those books are priceless to me - totally irreplaceable.

Saturday 4 March 2000

money worries

Mum's been a bit worrying recently: we had a conversation where her personal wealth veered from £20,000 down to £200 within a couple of sentences. She kept stopping and saying: "no...let's see..." and sounding like she was covering up. I think that she wants to present a competent front to me so that I don't get stressed, but she just can't manage it. I was concerned that she said she was still getting "handouts" from her Solicitor, 8 months after Dad died, when I thought everything was done and dusted, so I suggested that I rang S to ask for some sort of account of how Mum stood. She was adamant that I shouldn't ring S. As Executor, though, I felt I should talk to her. S said that Mum has been in to see her every single day asking questions.... often the same ones over and over.

Friday 3 March 2000


I've begun this blog because I can't keep troubling my brother-in-law with emails about my Mother, who I believe is declining mentally. I am her only relative in this country (my Sister has severed contact with us both and lives abroad). It's my hope to blow off steam by recording conversations I've had with Mum which illustrate her current state of mind. I recognise that some of the stories will paint me in a poor light. The fact is that almost every incident, serious or trivial, leaves me paralysed with doubts and fears for the future and what may come. It is especially hard for me to intervene on Mum's behalf when I live 300 miles away. Please be constructive with your comments, if you have any. I am alone with this and a bit slow to learn and understand from situations (I'm a guy).

The posts will begin with a selection of emails spanning the last seven years, since my Father's death. Throughout their married life, Dad shielded Mum from the practicalities of the world, so it was only when he was gone that it became apparent how dependent she was. I remember her handing me a bank statement and saying, "I don't know how I'm going to pay this bill." That was simply ignorance but, later when I got anguished phone calls from her worrying that she had only £50 in her account, I realised that something was wrong. The next day she'd be adamant her account held £500,000. It was more than a problem with decimal places, though. It took me seven years to find out that she was meantime responding to every charity envelope that came through her door, giving away more than three times her income every month until she had donated almost all her savings, including the money she made selling our family home.

Actually, now that I write this out, I can't imagine who would want to read all this angst, bile and woe... I was worried about how I looked complaining about a poor defenceless old lady, but now I'm worried about who my readers will be! All I can do is go ahead and post this stuff. When I get to the present day, I hope I will derive some benefit from just putting my irritations out there. But if anyone has been through something similar and has advice on available services or methods of coping, please please leave a comment.

13th October 2006