Almost daily diary!

Thursday, July 01, 2010


My Mum has always been a bit forgetful. It has nothing to do with age. When I was little she would take me shopping, and then, when we had bought everything she needed, she wouldn't be able to remember where she had parked the car. I remember walking the streets of my home town, trying to find her little red Mini before the traffic warden did! Far more recently there was the time when she dove off down the road with several Christmas presents balanced on the car roof and didn't stop until several people had gesticulated wildly at her. She has a history of loosing things...

She came down to see me on Monday, and to see Small Sprogs school play, in which he had a very small speaking part. I met her, as I always do now, just off the motorway junction because she's not confident driving in the city.

Despite trying to be on time, there she was, as I drove into the car park, sitting on a bench in the sun. I parked my car and walked to where she was, apologising for being late. She said she was perfectly happy waiting and had been into M&S to buy me some strawberries, bless her.

Anyway, before we set off back to my house, we went to her car to get something she had forgotten. And that's when she realised. No car key. We tipped out her handbag. Twice. Looked under the car, back to the bench. Nothing. She began to panic and, as I tried to keep her calm, I suggested we went back into the shop to see if it had been handed in. Thankfully it had. So off we went, happy that all was well. We had lunch at my house and went to watch Small Sprog, who was good in his play and very much himself, if you know what I mean?

However at the end of the performance we were informed that there was to be a collection for Cancer research, everyone delved for change during the encore and guess what? Mum couldn't find her purse. Oh no, I thought, she can't have lost that as well as her keys, not all in one day surely? She panicked and visibly grew old before my eyes. 'It's OK I soothed, we'll find it, but you just need to sit there for another few minutes until the performance is finished, then we can go and search for it'

I thought she was going to get up and rush out of the school hall. Instead she buried her head in her hands. The look of her reminded me of when she suffered a horrible depression after her mother died. One day, when I was younger and single, she sat in my house and proclaimed that life was no longer worth living. It is a hard thing to hear and at the time I had only a little understanding of just how awful depression was. It took a while back then, and medication, for her to recover but I got her back. How much she would have missed if she had got her wish?Two grandchildren for one thing.

Sometimes though, I think I still see the shadows of depression clouding her face, she is better but damaged. I feel it lurks and it scares me. So when I looked at her, so obviously stressed, I realised how fragile she is, how old she has become. One is used to ones mother always being there, a pillar of strength. When do the tables turn? When does the child become the adult? When did I become the one who reassures and nurtures? The change seems imperceptible, but all of a sudden it is there, fixed. I am the strong one now.

The performance finally finished, I ushered her out to the car. She was uncharacteristicly quiet. Had all been well she would have been revelling in the success of the performance. Instead she was locked up inside herself. I talked to her gently, like one would to a baby, soothing sounds, even and measured, I have soothed my own children in the same way to bring sleep and dispel illness.

We went home, searched the rooms she had spent time in, searched my car and her bag again, all in vain. Again her head was in her hands, 'it's OK' I said 'It's not the end of the world, no one is dying, no one is in danger. You may loose the cash but the cards will be OK, it will all be OK'

We drove back to the car park where I had picked her up. I parked next to her car so that we could look inside and see if it had fallen in there. Again we looked underneath, but it wasn't there. It wasn't there because it was somewhere else.

Yes, it was somewhere else, somewhere much more visible, if only we had known where to look. There it was, on the bonnet of the car, just neatly sitting between the bottom of the windscreen and the wiper blades, in full view of anyone passing. It was intact amazingly. Who'd have thought it? She was relieved of course, and cross with herself, but my main concern was that she was still in shock.

We went inside for sweet tea and chocolate. Once she seemed OK to drive, some hours later, we said goodbye. It had been a very eventful day and one, she told me, she would not be telling her husband about. It had brought home so much to me though too, like how little she has become, diminished somehow, and how fragile too. It made me realise how much I will always love her, and how time stops for no one.


Maggie May said...

I think we have all been there....... I related to the post because it happened with my own mother and now I can see it happening to my children because of me!
Its like a wheel going round full circle!

So glad that your mum found her possessions and so glad that she has you.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

mrsnesbitt said...

I see myself in this dialogue! Yesterday I rejoiced at the news that my mammogram was all clear - but I do feel dementia may be knocking at the door - oh so quietley, but it is letting me know it is around!

Fi from Four Paws and Whiskers said...

A very defining moment.... and now that my own mother is 80, I am amazed she is still so sprightly and independent! I worry though...

Steve said...

I think in all our lives we veer from being the child and the adult and then back again... often in response to our problems, mostly in response to those of the people we love. Your mum is lucky to have you, as you are lucky to have her.

nick said...

I know the situation. My mother is 88 and thankfully still pretty alert but there are times when she gets forgetful, loses something, gets in a huge panic and has to be reassured and calmed down. At that age forgetfulness is not so trivial, she's probably always worried senility's setting in. And that in turn would mean becoming a burden on others, which she would hate. So the reassurance is much needed and appreciated, I'm sure.

Furtheron said...

Luckily, or sadly depending how you look at it I suppose, my Mum passed away before all that started and she never had the trait. However there was suddenly a point where there was a realisation that my sister and I were increasingly responsible for her as she grew older and unwell (she had Lymphoma that in the end took her) and that we had somewhere taken charge.

In the days after she'd passed away and her sister also died within a few days of her going which was so weird, almost like they were waiting to go together, my sister looked at me and said - "You do realise we are the older generation now". It was true suddenly all the generation above was no more... you regret then that you never asked them more about life... well I do a bit.

Reasons said...

A very poignent post and I have had similar thoughts about my mum recently. I worry that she needs me and is far away, and sefishly i don't want to give up being the one who always has her to turn to.

Akelamalu said...

I'm not sure when exactly one becomes responsible for parents rather than the other way around but it definitely does happen. At 60 I am looking after my 85 year old father - when will my son's feel they have to look after me? I hope not for a very long time but one never knows.

Carol said...

A very heartfelt post! I have no idea when the change kind of sneaks up on you and then something happens and you feel a bit like you've been hit in the face with a sledgehammer and are left wondering 'when the hell did that happen?'. She is very lucky to have you!

I'm glad that small sprog did so well in his play! You must be very proud of him!

C x

Liz Hinds said...

Bless her! It's horrid to think you've lost something as important as a purse. I can understand why she was distracted. So glad you found it!

I'm reaching the stage now when I lose things that I look in the fridge or the pantry or anywhere less than obvious.

Rob-bear said...

This is such an emotional post. I remember having to help care for my parents, who lived half a continent away. I watched them diminsh; my mother more than my father, until she died before him.

Your care for your mom is wonderful.

Rose said...

We all reach this point at some time, and it is such a sad time. When my father was in the hospital this winter, he was quite helpless at times and very worried before his surgery. It was so hard for me to see this once-strong man who I thought could do anything break into tears. He's much better now, but he'll never be the same, and it makes me sad.

But such experiences do make us realize how short life is and to appreciate every moment we have with our parents. I'm so glad your mother found her purse intact, and she was so lucky to have you there reassuring her throughout this.

Jennysmith said...

Gosh Sub, that brought tears to my eyes. Yes, its hard to see a parent helpless, and those tables do turn without you remotely noticing.

My heart is with you and your mum. xx

Eternal Worrier said...

Great post Sub. I think the hardest thing is seeing your parents who we have relied on for so long looking frail and vulnerable. x

Barbara said...

What a relief finding the purse, we have all been there and it can be very worrying. It is so difficult when the tables turn and it is the parents that need caring for.

Glad they play went well for Small Sprog!

Letty - A Little Girl With A Curl said...

How I feel for you reading this post, and your Mother.

I remember all this so well with my own Mother, and yes, it does make you realise.....well you expressed it so well here, no point in me saying anything else.

Pleased to read Small Sprog's play went ok, and I hope your Mother is alright.

Letty x