Monday, May 6, 2013

Paying it forward. Me and my old mum.

For the 'time being' my life has dramatically changed. But somehow it's not dissimilar to the life I had for 11 years when I was a stay-at-home mum for my two kids, born 16 months apart. Back then I learned to be in the moment and not expect to have any time to myself until after the kids had gone to bed. And even then, Al and I were alert.

In those days we didn't sleep in. We were grateful if the kids sat close together on the couch, cuddling blankets and soft toys, sucking their fingers, gazing at cartoons on TV for ten minutes. You can achieve critical mass given ten minutes.

At times I'd be half asleep in the morning and Pete's little fingers would open one of my eyes for me, to see if I was awake. Kind of cute, on reflection. When you're a parent to little kids, once you're up you're in service. You know, you know. Jeeze I hope I'm not turning into a latent 'mummy/mommy blogger'.

So now I'm once again in service; a labour of love. My mum, aged 82, has taken over my daughter's old room. She's been living with Al and I for three weeks now, since I did my mercy dash down to her seaside home.

I brought her here so she'd be safe, warm and well-fed and so she wouldn't be alone.

But it's a little taxing. Mum has dementia. There now. I've said it. Memory loss sounds so much kinder.

I suppose she has classic symptoms, if my Google searches are any indication: confusion, memory loss, mood swings. So she gives me a bit of a hard time, especially first thing in the morning when she demands to be taken home. Ah, Life, as sister Reggie says.

Mum was brilliant, in her heyday when she was Director of Nursing of a massive organisation. In my late teens if I needed her, I'd often be hard-pressed to get her on the phone, given her professional status. 'Sorry, Sister J is unavailable,' I'd be told by her secretary. 'She's in conference. I'll let her know you called.'

Mum has also put in the hours as an exemplary grandmother to her eight grandchildren. I'm not sure I could have coped without her. Many are the afternoons Reggie and I dumped our three babies with mum for a couple of hours. We'd go shopping, sometimes coming home to find mum with three babies aligned on a blanket on the floor while she changed three lots of nappies.

It's good to think of this while I'm sitting here in the lounge with mum, watching a bit of afternoon TV. It's not unpleasant with the autumn sun blazing in through the curtains.

We've had our little trip to the shops with my elbow getting a good workout as I lead mum around. I've sourced a walking frame for her, but she doesn't like the look of it; prefers to hang onto me.

The local shopkeepers are getting to know her and oblige with a chat. And props to our Lebanese cafe guy who keeps telling my mum that she and I look like sisters. (Hope he's joking.)

But there you go. I remind myself, as I'm putting her a bit of foundation and lippie on, that she's just me in 25 years.

One good thing: she responds well to a chardy, and so do I. Think the sun's over the yardarm now.


No comments:

Post a Comment