My lovely mum. I miss you. Happy 90th

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I’ve felt sad the past few days for many reasons. One of them is because I’ve been thinking about my Mum. She will be 90 in a few days and I’m saddened that she won’t even know that she made 90. She was always so proud of how young she looked for her age and I so much wish her brain had travelled along with her but alas it didn’t.

I wish I could take a huge cake and put on a grand party for her as I feel she so very much deserves it. My Mum played a big part in helping me decide my future at a time I was in crisis. She stopped me from making a rash decision that would have ultimately ruined my life. I owe her wisdom and common sense to the happiness I have today. Her non-judgemental views and brave insight gave me the confidence to step into the unknown and take a huge gamble. I was unable to see the importance of her role in this until much later and by then I had lost her to something more powerful. It’s called dementia. It tears your family apart and rips loved ones from you leaving you with a shell of who they once were. Mum will hold my hand and smile at me. We’ll laugh together and hug and I know she knows I am someone she loves but exactly why she loves me, she cannot remember.

Mum lyn beachfront

I take comfort in the few photos I have. I remember everything she told me about her and my Dad but it’s never enough. I want more. I now feel an overwhelming desire to know everything about them. Finally and far too late I’ve seen them as people and not just Mum and Dad. The last time I saw her she held my hand and I chatted about books while she spoke incoherently about the past, stopping occasionally to smile at me. I was telling her about my books and reminding her of the books she had read, of which there were hundreds when she said,

‘Pages’

My heart leapt. How much more had she heard and understood? My mother was an avid reader, a great knitter, a calm and wise woman whose gentle temperament calmed my own. I miss her terribly.

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My mother never wanted this for herself. I know she would hate it. I hate that there is nothing I can do to change it. It’s how it is. But I do feel death would be better, not for me but for her. I hate you dementia. You’re cruel and worst of all you’re merciless because you’ll choose anyone, the educated, the uneducated, the rich, the poor, the creative and the uncreative.  Death is kinder than you. Mum never saw herself as anything special. She wouldn’t know what to make of a blog post about her. But she was special. She was my Mum and you can’t get more special than that.

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Happy 90th birthday Mum. I can’t say ‘I hope there will be many more’ because I know you wouldn’t have wanted them like this.

I love you. xxx

A signal from my dad? I hope so…

I have a sense of humour. If you know me, I imagine you may have noticed that. I was brought up on humour. I can’t remember a time when my lovely dad did not joke. Even when he was diagnosed with cancer my dad made a joke about his chemotherapy treatment. When I met Andrew I knew he was the one. His humour matched mine. In fact I think he may be even wackier than me. To live with us is not easy. We laugh a lot and make fun of everything, especially each other. There is not a situation we won’t laugh at.

After our wedding!

Andrew’s father was the same. When very ill in hospital shortly before he died, the nurse asked if she could take his blood pressure.
‘Sure, as long as you leave me some,’ he responded without missing a beat.
My dad knew so many jokes that it became tedious. Whenever we visited my parents he would always have a new one up his sleeve. He joked with everyone. When he was near the end of his life he still attempted to joke with his carer by pretending to box with her. I miss my dad very much. But my mum is still here.
If you thought I was bad, you should meet my lovely mum. She now has dementia and she is funnier now than she ever was. Dementia is a terrible illness but there is humour in that too if you look. I know she want me to see the funny side of what is happening to her. She is in a good place mentally and smiles a lot. She is confused but contented. It is ironic that my mother who always hated anything green and that included fields and the countryside is now living deep in the heart of the country in a beautiful home for dementia patients. We couldn’t have found her a better home if we had tried. This one almost fell at our feet. She will always tell you that she doesn’t have a clue what she is doing there and will go home soon.
‘Your father keeps saying he will come back for me. He never does. I’m not going to hold my breath for much longer.’ She told me on my last visit.
‘I think he has got another woman. It wouldn’t surprise me. He was always a ladies man.’
My dad only had eyes for my mum. Although a lot of women had eyes for him so I understood.
‘Of course there are a lot of men in here if I wanted a man.’
My mum is nearly eighty-five.
‘They chase us around the rooms here but I don’t have the energy for that. Let’s face it once you have a man in your life you spend your whole time on your back.’
That floored me, especially as she didn’t take her eyes off Andrew when saying it. I wondered if she remembered him. After all she had known my first husband for longer. I didn’t want her to mix them up.
‘You remember Andrew don’t you mum? We got married.’
Her face lit up.
‘Oh, congratulations. How lovely. Are you going to have lots of babies?’
Andrew spluttered into his tea.
We took her upstairs to her room to hang the photograph we had brought with us. In the lift Andrew leaned across her to push the button and she raised her eyebrows and winked at me as if to say,
‘He’s a bit of all right.’
I wrapped her up in her coat and scarf, took her hand and we pushed open the emergency door to the large grounds.
‘Shall we go for a walk?’ I asked.
‘Oh yes,’ she responded.
The door closed and automatically locked behind us. She looked at the door and then smiled.
‘I might go and stay with Olive a bit,’ she said.
Olive was her sister who died when mum was thirteen.
‘That will be nice,’ I said, wondering how the hell we would get back in.
‘We can walk around to the front,’ says Andrew.
Of course, except the gate is padlocked. Obviously they want to keep all the inmates in.
We both stare at the gate, while mother stares at us.
‘Can you climb over?’ I ask Andrew.
Mother gives him another admiring look. I can imagine my dad laughing.
‘Best not, let’s see if we can catch someone’s eye through the glass door, if not I’ll have to climb over.’
My mum stands smiling at us the whole time. She is enjoying the little adventure. Of course we did get back in eventually and I returned mum back to her seat next to her friend Doris who immediately took mum’s hand. Relief evident on her face that my mum had survived the visit with the mad daughter.
Some days I miss my parents so much especially my dad and I always try to think of ways to get him to tell me he is fine. Andrew laughs at this. Once I was convinced my dad was a blackbird who used to sit close to the summer-house. Andrew would call out.
‘All right Bill?’
My dad always used that turn of phrase to everyone.

With my sister’s handbag

‘All right Lyn,’ he would say to me.
My dad was one of the few people I allowed to call me Lyn. If anyone does now I tend not to respond. I see it as a term of endearment only my dad was allowed to use.
Always the joker

The other day I felt so much the loss that I asked him to send something. I then decided that was a bit vague. I then said.
‘Dad, send a bird to come into the summer-house while I am sitting there.’
I then proceeded to help things along by putting nuts just outside the door. Yes, I know.
I was really expecting a bird to just walk in, say hello and then leave? Yes, okay, you can laugh.
Several hours later after nothing had happened I dismissed the whole idea. An hour later to my shock a bird flew straight into the summer-house, around my head and out again. I was left in a state of shock. I later told Andrew who of course laughed and explained all the rational reasons for why that would happen. I nodded.
I on the other hand don’t want to think of rational reasons. I want to think that was my dad.
It made my day that’s for sure…