10 Jan

On 18 July 2021 I wrote

I sat in the shade yesterday and completed the main stitching on the cosmos flower. Sitting in mum’s garden was beautifully calming, despite my double espresso. The only sounds were of birdsong, including the less than tuneful quackery and splish sploshing of these ducks.

In other news, the swallows took a couple of weeks off after their first brood fledged and now they are back under the eaves, with a second nest of eggs.

Mum wasn’t happy in hospital. She was aware of enough to know that this was not a good place for her to be, but she was unable to speak up for herself. Our time in the hospital was absolutely focused on her and on being with her, on giving her an hour or two each day when she was reminded of who she was, and that we would do everything we could to keep her safe. We didn’t want to lie to Mum, and we knew not to make promises we could not keep, so we never talked to her about getting her home, but talked often of her Escape Plan, of getting her out of hospital, of making sure she was looked after and happy.

One day she looked up at James, and said to him “I’m not going to go home am I?”. There we were, dancing around this truth, and she just came out with it. Even in her dementia, in her confusion, she made life easier for us. This was said at the point when we were just beginning to research care homes. It was perhaps the kindest thing she could have done, though I doubt that she knew it; she took away any sense that we were letting her down, that we were betraying her wishes. We already knew we could not cope with looking after her at home any more, no matter how often a day a carer popped in to help… but it was such a relief to know that at some level Mum recognised this too.

Mum absolutely accepted that we were making good decisions for her, and was so grateful to us. We didn’t want to give her details about the Escape Plan until we had it properly in place. Bits of information could circle round and round in her head, making her more anxious if they didn’t quite fully make sense to her. So, until we had everything confirmed we just referred to the Escape Plan.. and she seemed to quite like this concept.

In other news, around this time I was finally informed that I had not been successful in the internal job interview I’d attended a couple of weeks before. I had worked out for myself that I hadn’t been successful, but had become increasingly hurt that no-one told me (despite assuring me I would be informed within 48 hours of the interview). The reason I was given for not being offered the job was that I didn’t have another language. My new colleague is ace, but we are both perplexed by this reason for me not getting the job – they don’t have a second language either.

In other times this might have been a spur for me to really apply myself to finding another job. But, it had the opposite effect – I realised that I didn’t have the emotional energy to put myself through a recruitment process. I knew I could not present my best self to a potential employer, and also that further rejection would utterly break me.

Life continued. But I had absolute clarity about where my priorities lay from now on. And work was nowhere near the top any more. This was a new way of living for me – it didn’t yet sit very comfortably, but I have always been a relatively quick learner!


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 after I realised Mum might have dementia. There I was, embroidering her old fisherman’s smock with symbols relating to her life; meanwhile 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 this super simple Throw It In The Oven Chicken Dinner (I know, I should have just called it Winner Winner Chicken Dinner), then you could check out my recipes here.

2 Responses to “Birdsong”

  1. zachariahtoadstool January 10, 2023 at 8:37 pm #

    Sorry to hear your Mum’s in that unhappy condition, Lois. Word obviously doesn’t get round the village too quickly! My mum was in Merse House for about 6 years, and whilst she wasn’t too happy at first, she actually got used to it fairly quickly, and had great care. The fact that her dementia was rapid and early onset probably contributed to that, but it sounds like your Mum thankfully has enough reasoning left to know what’s what. It’s an absolutely horrible condition, both for the sufferer and their family and friends. It was a different situation, as my Dad was still alive, but he’d been trying to cope for a few years with Mum at home, and was beginning to suffer a lot as wel. Care homes get a bad rep sometimes, but they are places for *care*, and the good ones do it well.

    Work? Who needs it?!



    • shewolfinthevalley January 10, 2023 at 9:12 pm #

      Thanks for the message Harry. I’m discovering that almost everyone I know has personal experience of someone with dementia (which may just be a function of my age now, but also demonstrates how prevalent it is). Mum actually settled in to FV very quickly, and it felt like she instinctively knew she was safe and being looked after. She’s been there nearly 18 months now, and is now a very different person, as you can imagine. But yes, our experience has been that she is cared for with such respect and dignity, with genuine care and love – I am constantly in awe of the way the staff care for the residents.


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