Saturday, 27 February 2016

Singing songs in the park

When I arrived at the nursing home today mum was cleaning her teeth. I waited until she had got out of the bathroom and then I went to the table by the window where the iPad is kept. I used it to call my brother in Texas but he wasn't home, so I turned to mum and asked her if she wanted to go to the park for a while. "That sounds like a good idea," she said. She got up and went to the cupboard where her jacket hangs and got it out, then I helped her to put it on. I got her cap from the drawer and her glasses from the chest of drawers beside the bed.

When we got out to the park it was quite warm but the sun was mainly hidden by clouds. I found a seat at the second bench. Mum was still on the footpath busy collecting a branch with some dead leaves on it, to take back to her room.

We sat down together and I made a video which turned out to be too big to load to YouTube. I have to remember to keep the videos short. But anyway it showed mum singing songs, which she likes to do. One of the old ones she sang today in the park is Chatanooga Choo-Choo. I had been given the suggestion of Blue Moon by my cousin and I passed that along to mum, but when she started singing it she found she could only remember the first line. I gave her the second line and she went along singing for a little while but it was soon clear this would not become one of her favourites. The recall is just not there.

As we were sitting there on the bench I looked down the road and saw someone standing behind a table that had things standing on it, so I guessed it was a flower vendor. I told mum and she was immediately interested, so after a while we stood up and made our way down the street. It turned out it was a youth who is raising money for a rugby and soccer tour of New Zealand. While we were coming up to the table another shopper stopped her car and crossed the road to buy a bunch of roses. I bought a bunch of the long-stemmed ones for $15, and then mum and I made our way back to the nursing home.

Once we were inside I tried calling my brother again and this time he answered. He was doing something with Second Life, which he showed us; he had just changed his avatar to a fox, apparently. He turned the camera around to face his computer screen and the fox scampered in small circles as we watched. I reminded mum of Riding Down from Bangor, which she had sung the last time I was up at the nursing home to see her. She recited the whole thing again from start to finish, and sang it for my brother. I remarked how amazingly well she was able to remember the old songs, even though she could not remember if she had eaten lunch. My brother said that was why the old songs were memorized for ritual purposes. I couldn't disagree. James said he had been up doing work late at night for the past two nights because of a network problem so I let him ring off and go and get some sleep.

Mum then threw away the old dead leaves she had in her flower vase, stuffing them into her small blue plastic garbage bin. The roses had to be put somewhere. When we had finished throwing away the dead sticks and leaves I went out into the hallway and saw a staff member. I motioned to them and they came over. I mentioned to the woman that mum had some roses with thorns that had to be put into the vase in her room and she told me she would try to get someone to come and do that for mum. In the meanwhile, I just put water into the vase and stuffed the whole thick mass of leaves and stems into it.

I left the nursing home soon after that to give myself plenty of time to get home, considering the exit ramp near the Fish Market tends to get crowded near lunchtime on Saturdays. I got through that point in the journey quite quickly, and came back and poured myself a nice cup of cold coffee.

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