18 May

On 25 August 2021 I wrote more…

This wee dude is nearly done and although I have one more swallow to stitch I’m already thinking about the next design. It’s going to be a cheeky wee quick one. And I’m already excited about it.

It’s been interesting today, just letting my mind wander. I was thinking how creative all my family are, and how I don’t consider myself creative at all. At least not musically or visually… but I know I am with food. Give me some random ingredients and I can create you a tasty meal. Today I made pita bread (there it is, puffing up in the pizza oven) and brought a selection of salads and cold meats and cheese and boiled eggs to the table so we filled our pitas then filled our faces. The pita recipe is from Ripe Figs, the most beautiful celebration of food, migration and a world without borders by Yasmin Khan.

Mum is an artist. She can pick up a pencil, a pen, a brush and draw whatever is in front of her. Well she could. The optician confirmed she has macular degeneration which explains why she’s being saying “I’m blind” for over a year. And I think this combined with her dementia means we will never see her draw again. I hope she doesn’t miss drawing, but I think she maybe she does, when she remembers it was a talent she had.

Mum never did draw again. And these days she sleeps most of the hours of each day, so I know she never will.

Thankfully I don’t think she ever did regret that she could no longer draw; she seemed not to know that she ever had that ability. So, while I feel sad at that loss, Mum never did.

We had hung one of her pen and ink drawings in her room in the care home – it’s a charming picture of her lush green veg boxes, overflowing with abundance, and surrounded by small creatures – swallows, a snail, a wee mouse, a spider.

In late August 2022 I was sitting with Mum as I embroidered – the design was adapted from a pen and ink drawing I had found in one of her sketchbooks, of silver birch trees in the Autumn. I showed Mum and let her know how much I loved stitching her drawings, reminding her what a talented artist she was. She did her funny wee scowl, looking puzzled, and with disbelief asked “Am I?”.

I talked some more about the ease with which she could draw anything in front of her.

She had no recollection of this aspect of her life at all. And what surprised me more, was that she had no curiosity about it, and no disappointment that she could no longer do it. It was as if I was talking to her about someone she really didn’t care for and certainly wasn’t interested in.

She hmmmphed at me, as an indication that she’d like to move on to other topics.

By this time Mum had lost all her curiosity in the world around her. And with that loss of curiosity, comes a loss of interest in almost anything. This was so very different to the Mum I had known for most of my life, who showed interest in everything.

I don’t say this in any critical way at all, or even with sadness, though I’d be lying if I pretended I wasn’t grieving for Mum. It is just a statement of how I perceived Mum, and how our relationship was at that time. In some ways visits with her became easier for me (I know, I know, it shouldn’t be all about me, but my experience is all that I can write about with any confidence). When she was losing her ability to communicate so well, there were visits when she would be distressed but was unable to articulate why. This distress was rare, what was more common was that we struggled after a while to communicate about anything much at all – Mum would tire, and fail to find the words she was looking for. Previously, when I was living with her I could finish every sentence for her when she lost a word – we existed as a team together. After several months in the care home this was not possible. I sometimes could not fathom what she was trying to tell me at all. So, more recently, when she lost the inclination to talk much at all, I took my embroidery or knitting with me and after a short chat I would tell her that I was going to get on with my knitting (or whatever) and that I’d just sit quiet as a mouse beside her. I often told her she looked tired, and she agreed that she was … essentially I gave her permission to snooze.

Perhaps we all need to be given permission to snooze some days.


Trying to care for Mum as she developed dementia nearly broke me on a number of occasions. Gentle meditative stitching the Fisherman’s Smock probably saved me, giving me a focus and forcing me to carve out time when I could let everything go and just concentrate on those tiny stitches. I would really appreciate it if you could make a donation towards Alzheimer Scotland. They’re doing stuff that makes living with this more bearable for so many people. Thank you, thank you, a thousand thank yous.

And if you want to read more about my relationship with Mum and her dementia, then you could start here at Taking smock of the Situation. Or just dip in. After all, if I’ve learned anything this last few years it’s that chronology and time are less important than we might believe.

One Response to “Creativity”


  1. Taking Smock of the Situation | Shewolfinthevalley - May 27, 2023

    […] Creativity […]


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