A N I M A L S

8 Jan

On 16 July 2021 I wrote

It was hot enough at breakfast time to eat outside again. And as today was a hospital visit day again I didn’t need to rush off to work, so filled a quiet hour with some stitches. It’s a lovely way to start a day.

When my brothers and I had left home, mum took up her art more seriously again. She attended pottery classes locally and when she couldn’t get on to the wheel, she started sculpting with her clay. Of course she was drawn to animals (you’ve seen some of her sketches) and before long she was commissioned to create a prize bull from a photo. And her business was born… she created ceramic models of animals, and sent them all over the world. This was before social media, so she traveled to craft fairs and agricultural shows to promote her wares. And she had an old school leaflet, featuring this lovely picture of her with her wee dog, Mouse. (And wearing a fisherman’s smock!)

I share her love of pottery, and have treated myself to some lovely pieces made in Galloway over recent months – as you can see in the carousel of bonus pics below. If you want to own something beautiful, handmade by superb artists you might enjoy @minniwick and @wemakepots.

Eighteen months after I first wrote the words above, in the heart of winter, I am looking out of my window to a cold blustery day, the sky beyond the horizon is dark inky black, promising more rain to come.

And Mum is still around, though a much diminished character to the one we knew so well in July 2021. We cannot know what is in our futures, so it is strange thinking myself back to this time, knowing what I know now. I distinctly remember saying to James around that time that Mum might survive to my birthday (end of August) but not to Christmas. And he responded, that it would not then be to his birthday (just before Christmas). Mum has lived through another two Christmases since that conversation, and as we still cannot look into the future, we do not know if there will be another, or several more. It seems inconceivable, but then I have lived in the foreshadow of her death for so long now.

I visited her yesterday – she was in her bed, as she so often is, but was wide awake and quite alert. She was amused when I told her how our animals are – Puck the naughty black Patterdale terrier, Max the big black labrador with the stinky breath, Brutus the cockerel and only two hens (the others have been taken by badgers, which she remembered) ,, and then I said “And Gordon….” and she giggled, as I added “though he’s not really an animal”. I hadn’t seen her actually giggle for a while, so it was a delight to see.. and she still agrees that he’s a keeper. He certainly is. Mum realised it before anyone else, and despite her limited abilities, she still knows it.

So yesterday was A Good Day. I left her, promising to visit again this morning, at coffee-time.

She was dressed and sitting in her chair this morning – she can no longer dress herself, a combination of her dementia, but also her frailty. She has no power left in her legs. After a couple of incidents when she was sitting on the edge of her bed, and a carer turned around for a minute (probably to get her clothes) and Mum slipped and landed on the floor, Mum is now moved from bed to chair via a hoist. She sits in a large padded chair, which has hidden wheels to wheel Mum to the dining room, or wherever.. .. and her feet don’t touch the ground, so she cannot even try to stand up should she forget she can’t do it any more.

Anyway, Mum was in her chair, dressed, and her hair was looking nice. But she seemed so very far away again. She hardly spoke, but seemed happy to sit and watch me knitting. I blethered a bit, telling her that I’m knitting a jumper for G, and that I also really love embroidery these days and I described the painting of silver birch trees that I found in her sketch book which I am embroidering, slowly, oh so slowly. Mum had little interest, but politely sat there. She also had no interest in looking out the window when I could hardly hear myself speak over the loud drumming of the hailstones outside. Seeing this change in Mum makes me realise how much I value curiosity in people.

So, if we’re categorising, I’d say that today was Not Such A Good Day. But honestly, what is Good or Bad in relation to my dearly loved 91 year old mother? By what criteria do we measure Good and Bad? After all, she is content, and she is treated with respect and dignity, with care and love by the staff. So perhaps today is just Another Day. And tomorrow will be one too.

***

Finally, if you want to catch up on how we got to this point, this series of posts starts here, with Taking Smock of the Situation, an embroidery project I started shortly after I realised Mum might have the early stages of dementia. There I was, embroidering her old fisherman’s smock with symbols relating to her life as her memories were being thrown around like so many pieces of jigsaw in a big box.

Not in the mood for this? That’s ok. But if you feel like a bit of cooking or baking, perhaps making a delicious Banana Chocolate Nut Cake, then you could check out my recipes here.

One Response to “A N I M A L S”

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  1. Taking Smock of the Situation | Shewolfinthevalley - January 9, 2023

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