Back in her room we had been talking about H, who she had previously regarded as a friend. "I'm avoiding that woman, you know," she said to me. "Which woman?" I asked, knowing full well which woman she was talking about, and not even having to ask. "You know," she said. "You mean H?" I asked. "Yes," mum said, "she's a bully and I'm fed up with her."
When we were in the park watching the dogs run around with their owners, I asked mum if she was going to go and see H. "Who's H?" she said to me, completely oblivious, just proving how strong the dementia has gotten. I had not started the conversation about her once-friend. It was she who had kicked it off back in her room.
"Yes, she's a complete bully," I had said to mum when we were in her room talking about H. "The staff try to protect me from her," she said. "Oh, it has got that bad, has it?" I asked.
I left mum in her room this time after our little excursion to the bench during which time she had sung her old song, which went: "Look to the left and look to the right and you'll never, never get run over." "We didn't have television but we had radio, and we used to listen to these programs," said mum. She continued with the song: "If you go out by day or by night beware of the dangers that lurk out of sight. Look to the left and look to the right and you'll never, never get run over." Today's public safety announcements are surely not retained with quite as much fidelity as this 70-year-old song has been by my mother.