It’s not my plan to spend Mum’s last days with her. When I receive the call from her care home to say she is declining, I fling an overnight bag together and leg it to the station. Her home is in Lanark, an hour by train from Glasgow, where I live with my husband Jimmy (our three grown-up children have left home). I spend the journey willing her to hang on.
My mum, Margery, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s six years ago. At the time, we lived in Biggar, South Lanarkshire, and Mum was just up the road, alone in a house of her own. She and my dad divorced 30 years ago, and her second husband had passed away. As she became more confused, we muddled along as best as we could. Mum was assigned a social worker, plus a community psychiatric nurse who visited fortnightly, and I took meals to her. However, as things worsened it became too dangerous for Mum to be left alone.
As her only child, I visited local care homes and pored over their inspection reports. Through word of mouth I heard that the local council-run home was excellent, and as soon as I walked in I knew it was perfect. It was friendly with none of that dismal institutional feel we tend to expect. Luckily, Mum was positive about the move and fouryears on, her carers have become friends to me. I have cried on Sheila’s shoulder, giggled with Elaine and Ruby, and been doubled up with laughter with Alan, who we were all convinced Mum had a crush on. Now Mum is clinging to life, I know my connection with these lovely people is coming to an end. Would it be crazy to visit when Mum is no longer here?
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