I dialled up my brother in Texas and we were soon chatting, the three of us. We talked about Second Life - the virtual world my brother often uses - but I also mentioned that I would be coming next on Thursday this week, as I would be away on a trip for a few days from Friday. We also sang a couple of songs - mum's favourites Riding Down from Bangor and Chatanooga Choo-Choo - and chatted about my brother's dogs. He was giving us views of a selection of the different avatars you can choose to represent you on Second Life, and he showed us some koalas and a penguin. He said that he had once been very impressed by a break-dancing penguin he had seen in the virtual world, and this had suggested to him to use a fox for his own avatar.
After a while I guessed we had enough time to go out to the park - mum and I - and so I closed down the FaceTime conversation and got mum ready to go out. We went out into the hot sun and mum commented that you could smell the grass in the warm air. I mentioned once we had sat down in the park that the wind was very warm. It was a balmy late morning.
When I judged it was the right time to go back inside I got mum up off the bench where we were sitting - and from which she had greeted a number of the dogs that circle the park on most days - and we headed back. We went in through the nursing home's entrance hall and across toward the elevator, which we caught to the first floor. Outside the lift I asked mum where she wanted to sit for lunch, and I indicated one empty table - no, not there, she shook her head - and another table where two women were sitting - she scrunched her mouth up in distaste but then said 'ok' with a nod.
As I sat her down at the table I said I would be taking her jacket, sunglasses and cap back to her room. She misunderstood and said, "See you Thursday." I registered this silently - she had actually remembered what I had said to her earlier in the morning, when we had been talking to my brother on the iPad - and headed off to her room, where I put her things away in the right places. I came back out and said goodbye to her, then left and got back in the car. I bought a pork roll at the bakery in Epping before getting on the motorway.