My mum just went into a nursing home last week. She had been in hospital for 95 days following a severe stroke. As a family, it has turned our world upside down.
Funnily enough, as we have struggled to help the four people for whom she was a carer, including two Ukrainian refugees, she has sometimes seemed to be in the best place of all. While we agonise over powers of attorney, rotas for food, lifts and companionship for her partially sighted husband, hospital bureaucracy and 'what ifs' for the future, mum is blissfully unaware. Living in the present, it seems her worry functionality, never particularly acute (unlike mine), has gone completely. Somehow being by her bedside is the calmest place to be in the midst of our storm.
It was always this way. Her home is called 'the Haven', not without reason. She has a visitor's book which everyone has to write in before they leave. There is always the compulsory leaving group photo, which I have so often cursed under my breath whenever we are at risk of missing boats, planes or trains.
While she can hardly speak now, she talks with her eyes and is very much present. While she was unconscious in her first month in hospital, my brother would keep up singing hymns to her (she was a lay preacher in the Church of England six months ago). It gave us all a chuckle when one day he asked her, as he always did, whether she would like him to sing a hymn and she spoke her first word: a very loud 'No!'. Should we laugh or cry?
We subsequently realised that No could mean No and it could also mean Yes, but we gave my brother a good tease about how he had been torturing her with his singing for several weeks. None of us minded, such was our joy at hearing her speak a word! My thoughts are with any of you who have not got such pleasant associations with nursing homes, or whose relatives are feeling distress. May they find peace.
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