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.

Monday 7 July 2014

Move him into the sun

We are planning to see mum's physios and occupational therapists at the end of this week. They were hoping to get mum to stand longer ( supported) each day but fear she may have plateaued. We've all tried to encourage her to get into a wheelchair and go out into the sunshine. However I feel we have reached an impasse there too. Mum is tired and reluctant to do more, it seems. But, at almost ninety, perhaps it's too late to teach an old dog new tricks.

We find she's sitting out of bed a little more - perhaps that's the best we can hope for now. After all she can still read, listen, talk, eat and drink. And she still has a sense of humour! Perhaps these are more important than being pushed out into the sunshine.

I am reminded of Wilfred Owen's 'Futility' -  Move him into the sun Gently.
Or - as in the original - Move him into the sun
                                     Gently its touch awoke him once

Perhaps we should just let mum be. Sleep is what she wants now.

This hiatus - the stroke and its after effects - gives me time for reading and researching life for mum's contemporaries. Born in the nineteen-twenties this age group has seen much, spared the horror of the first world war, but thrown into the confusion of the second. Going through mum's photographs, in a weak attempt to begin moving her home to my brother's - so some sorting has to be done- has given me access to paraphernalia from between the war years. Just right for my novel 'Coming of Age'. However there has been little time for writing. Trying to keep our house and garden going, and doing the same at mum's house takes its toll. But the sun is warm, the weather glorious, and we've had time to enjoy it. Every July I'm keen to get out before the summer holidays leave Bath so crowded we can barely walk on the pavements. Plenty of swimming to do too.

Use it or lose it has never been more true.

So kind of people to continue to ask about mum. It's likely to be much the same now, I think. A chat, a glance at the paper, a drink and a joke, then a bit of a sleep. As long as mum's content then perhaps that's what we should settle for too.