Sunday, 3 November 2013

You Shouldn't Laugh... Should You?

My family has decided that my mum has to live in a care home.

Dementia has finally caught up with her, after a twelve year chase. She doesn't talk much these days, when she does, it is often just to repeat the last words of a sentence that we've said to her. Although she understands what we say to her, often chuckles when we say or do something funny.

She's always had a tremendous sense of humour, which is a benefit, coming from her family. There is a huge catalogue of amusing stories, which still get reeled out at family occasions.

Stories like that of her father, Henry, running off to Scotland with a woman because he was convinced that he was Scottish and she was wealthy. Both turned out to be untrue, although there are photographs of Henry dressed in full kilt and regalia alongside me as a baby. No one can remember the name of the lady in question, she will be forever referred to as "that woman".

Another time her sister, Gladys, rode her bicycle along the M25 against the flow of traffic, in the dark because she had go confused riding home from visiting her husband in hospital. When the police picked her up and asked her why she hadn't turned around after realising her mistake, she replied that as far as she was aware it was illegal to do a U-turn on the motorway.

Mum, herself, is no stranger to the odd amusing incident, having helped in the removal of Georgie Cockle's finger whilst chopping fire wood. Or sitting in a crematorium chapel through the funeral of a stranger because she had arrived too early (uncharacteristically) and only realising that she didn't recognise anyone after she had sat down and the mourners had all arrived.

Although there has been so much laughter, there has been a fair share of tragedy. Losing her mother when she was just eleven years old and caring for her father as she grew up, when she should have been enjoying her youth must have been a struggle. As must have been bringing up two young children after the untimely death of her husband after just ten years of marriage. Remarriage and the combination of two young families was also not without pain.

But she powered through it all, keeping the family together as only she could have done. She had her Christian faith to lean on, but in many ways this added to her workload as she spent much of her time caring for elderly and vulnerable people that came her way through various organisations. In fact she had cared for one very disabled lady, still doing her weekly shopping when her own mind was in quite significant decay.

So I can't look upon her being in a home now as a tragedy. More as payment in kind to a lady who has touched, amused and lightened the lives of so many people. 

Therefore I feel justified in seeing amusement in finding my mum wearing two pairs of glasses because she has picked up someone elses. Or finding myself sitting on her lap in her wheelchair because we have overbalanced as I was trying to sit her down.

She'll never stop making me smile.