Monday 10 May 2010

jokes and old folks

So, I'm downstairs in the Café below Mum's household, buying a Diet Coke, and I spy these jellybeans on sale beside the cash register. They're advertised as "Senior Citizen Pills", with each colour combatting an ailment or affliction associated with advanced years. I don't think it's a particularly funny joke - it seems pretty insensitive, in fact - but I don't feel like challenging the fundraising efforts of the Home.

Upstairs again, I'm sitting with Mum and a couple of other residents. As usual, I stopped and bought Mum some of her favourite chocolates en-route, and I'm folding the plastic bag to put it away in my pocket as she scrabbles her hand around in a big box of Maltesers.

"Oh, I was wondering why you had that bag with you," Mum says.

"I brought your chocolate in it, Mum." I say. "I'm going to hang onto it because they charge 5p for a bag in some shops now."

This prompts muttered outrage from the old folk in our circle.

"Yes," I say, "I always end up having to pay the 5p because I keep forgetting to take an old bag in with me."

"You could take me with you," says Mum, quick as a flash.

I have to say, her speed and delivery took me by surprise and made me look Mum in the eye. Maybe the fundraisers should leave the jokes to the old folks.

Wednesday 5 May 2010

night terror

Sometimes it takes you by surprise.

You've tidied up the mess, smoothed down the edges of your life, and you expect an untroubled sleep.

But then you wake up in the middle of the night in vertiginous wordless despair as, in your dream, your mind has intuitively grasped, for a second, the total horror of your Mother's situation: the appalling plummet from the full person she was to that unbelievably insulting parody sitting in the Care Home, spooling a few silly phrases endlessly on a loop, like someone's answer-machine that you ring long after they died, just to hear their voice.

And then comes the aftershock.

The thought that occasionally she might have a similar insight.