Music plays from the exercise room, and I approach with trepidation.
Will she know who I am? I hope she is well and happy.
I rethink, and reflect that it isn’t music, but discordant banging of drums, loud enough to wake the dead.
Not a good choice of words in an aged care Nursing Home.
Mum is there, half-heartedly banging on plastic drums with wooden sticks. She appears happy, so my worries subside.
There are about twenty people doing the same thing, and as soon as she sees me, her face brightens in a smile, and while accepting my kiss, she requests, “Take me out of here, Kathy, it is so very noisy.”
I willingly comply. It is a “good” day, and mum is aware of her surroundings.
I push her wheelchair up to the deck, where there is a winter sun, and a gentle sea-breeze.
She appears lively, and attentive, and asks after the family. My mum and I had always had a good relationship. We had gone on mini holidays with my children when they were school aged. She had insightful perceptions and offered sound advice.
I was her only daughter, so I was fortunate to have her undivided attention, and felt loved.
As I talk about the news of the week and our family, she asks the right questions, and remarks sensibly.
Encouraged by her attentiveness, I fall easily into the everyday conversation we had always had before five years ago, and I start to enjoy this visit. I show her photos of our family on my phone and the hour goes by quickly.
After a short comfortable silence, mum asks how was the family and what they had been up to?
Short-term memory loss happens in all stages of life, becoming increasing prevalent as one ages.
At 85 years old, mum understandably is entitled to have memory loss, and no-one could blame her for a progressive illness that is outside of one’s control.
Her outlook on life revolves around immediate and current situations, but even then, fragments quickly when she tires.
Ruefully I rejoice that I had enjoyed a small window of opportunity into her normally lively personality, and we had both benefitted from the interaction.
What can one do, when your mother’s inquiring after family? – knowing she lives in a sterile environment, where she needs the interaction of the ones she loves. Good mental health is enhanced when nurtured with family antidotes, laughing, thinking of enjoyable times and exercise.
I bite back my disappointment, and we go through our whole conversation again, unfortunately not with the same enthusiasm that I had initially.
She doesn’t seem to notice, and my visit finishes soon after.
Her life is carefree and egocentric. I gather my thoughts and reflect, that that is all we can wish for when the closing days of our lives eventuate.