Slow and steady

3 Apr

On 19 August 2021, I wrote:

Slow but steady progress.

A washing line of swallows. And clothes pegs.

This morning I awoke wondering about the timeline of this writing. It feels as though I am writing in several different timezones all at once:

  • the time when I originally posted the picture (currently August 2021)
  • sometimes decades earlier, reflecting on aspects of Mum’s life
  • and now.

Though really, I haven’t been saying much about now have I?

And I wonder if that is what is going on? Am I writing about what was happening 19 months ago, in order to hold back time? Or too avoid looking too closely at what is going on right now? Because A Lot is going on. And has been (in various forms) for quite some time now. Perhaps for all those 19 months.

More recently, over Christmas it became clear that we were getting rapidly to the point when we would need to sell her house to release the equity to cover the eye-watering weekly fees for her ongoing care. On another occasion I will write more about this, for now all you need to know is that we made the decision to put our home on the market, so we could buy Mum’s house (if the figures added up and we would be able to do so).

The figures do and so we’ve been making progress. But rather like the washing line of swallows 19 months ago, it has been slow and steady.

And then in early March things changed. Mum’s health deteriorated significantly, and she stopped eating. A few days later she started to eat tiny amounts again, but most of her time is spent sleeping and it feels like she won’t be with us for much longer. If she had not started taking in some food again, we were told she may only have 2 or 3 weeks left with us.

So the anticipatory grief rollercoaster throws us around another loop. After spending several days sitting with her each afternoon as she slept, and I worked, or wrote, or knitted … and several evenings talking with my brother, we both felt that it was time for us to come back to our homes again. Mum is calm and peaceful; she is serene and when she wakes and sees that we are there she gives us the biggest smile. Her hair has been stroked more than ever before in her life, her hands smell sweetly of the lavender hand cream we rub into them. She smiles with delight when the carers come and care for her.

The first few days of this new normal were unbearable. Life without Mum has always felt impossible. But we know it’s not impossible. We just haven’t experienced it yet. We will learn how to live with it, like we learned so many other things, And in a strange way, it feels as though Mum is, yet again, showing us how to get through this transition – with grace and love.


You can read more about my relationship with Mum and her dementia starting here, with Taking Smock of the Situation, an embroidery project I started when I realised Mum might have dementia. There I was, embroidering her old fisherman’s smock with symbols relating to her life; while her memories were slipping away, like me at a party I don’t want to be at.

3 Responses to “Slow and steady”

  1. Jan April 3, 2023 at 2:42 pm #

    It sounds as if your mum has lived the proverbial life well lived. Good to hear she is calm. x

    Liked by 1 person


  1. Taking Smock of the Situation | Shewolfinthevalley - April 4, 2023

    […] Slow and steady […]


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