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Sunday, 14 February 2016

A walk in the park

Here's mum in the nursing home hallway on her way outside to sit in the park. When I had arrived this morning she was asleep on her bed in her clothes and she dozed through most of the FaceTime call to my brother in Texas. She bucked up a little at the end of the conversation when my brother started playing old songs on his computer that we listened to through the iPad. Mum sang along to We'll Meet Again, which is a favourite by Vera Lynn. "She was a Brit," said mum, puckering up her mouth.

Mum was still singing when we were walking down the ramp outside the nursing home. We said hello to the two elderly residents who are usually sitting on the balcony outside their ground-floor rooms. Often they'll have a sulphur-crested cockatoo sitting with them. One appeared there when we were returning from the park, but not on the way out.

We went down the street to the main road so that we could walk around the roadworks that are on-going. In the park we sat on the first bench. I opened up the camera in my phone and asked mum if she minded if I took a video of her. She said it was ok and I said she could sing a song if she liked. She started singing immediately, even before I had started shooting with the camera. It was a made-up song that she was singing along the lines of "I can sing a song if I like, a song I have invented." It was great to see mum in such good spirits, with the delusions completely absent. There was no talk of the blotches on her arms this time, or of car accidents or of being attacked by farmers. It was pure mum, which usually means a bit of nonsense. Making no sense is one of the perks of being 86: you can say or do pretty much whatever you feel like saying or doing.

We sat in the park and mum said hello to a dog as it walked around the perimeter of the fenced enclosure which makes up the main part of the park. Often people walking their dogs will also say hello to mum as she sits there (another perk of being elderly is people are usually pretty comfortable with you). One woman today as she was guiding her dog out of the park said hello and mum returned the greeting. I just nodded, as befitted my role as the more responsible party.

This kind of day when nothing out-of-the-ordinary happens and when everything is calm and orderly, is the exception now, I know, but I still enjoyed it. It is nice to occasionally relax with mum knowing that nothing is going to happen and that she is generally happy and contented. As I say, this kind of day is probably now the exception rather than the rule. I do expect that mum will sooner or later be readmitted to hospital with another infection. Along with that of course will come the residual deficits like delusions and delirium, either in the hospital or in the nursing home when she has returned to familiar surroundings. When things are good and she's just coasting along singing an old song then life seems perfectly normal and good. If only it could be that way all the time.

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