Saturday, 12 July 2014

The stooping figure of my mother ...

... wrote Laurie Lee in 'As I Walked Out...' He was born one hundred years ago but we were unable to join the centenary celebrations in Slad as mum was still in hospital.

Just like Laurie Lee, watching his mother wave to him as he leaves her, I have seen mum wave us off from her driveway,whenever we started our journey back home to Bath, on countless occasions over the years. Until twenty years ago both she and my father would stand in the space left by our car and wave us off. As they did so we would make our way past just seven houses either side of Nightingale Place, a pretty name for an address. Then we would turn out in to the lane and they would wave once more. As we turned and drove past the woods our car would have been out of sight to them - so just before that I'd see their hands make one final farewell gesture.
Laurie Lee's opening lines in 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning'  always resonates with me - especially when I wave at mum who is herself waving us goodbye...
   'one gnarled red hand waved in farewell'
and for years I have wondered when the last time would come. When would I not see my mother waving us farewell?

It seems that time has arrived. She has waved us her last goodbye, from her driveway at least. Mum cannot go home again. I wonder whether she has said her goodbyes to her house - in her mind at least. She and dad moved there in nineteen-sixty - almost fifty-five years ago. It's a lot to give up.

Whenever I wave to her at hospital she is lying in bed and one hand rises above the bedcovers to give a weak wave. And still the words of Laurie Lee come into mind.

From now on I won't see mum as a stooping figure because she will be seated - in a wheelchair  - or lying in bed.

She did come out to the tea rooms with us on Friday - but in a wheelchair. That was her first time in a public place for almost three months. I don't know how she will feel about not being able to walk to the shops or to a cafe. I hope she adjusts to being wheeled out. It's a big  change when you're one month off reaching the great age of ninety.

Time will tell.

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