Week Twenty-Eight

Mammy with her “babby-wabbies” on her 21st birthday.

I am continually surprised at how much happens in a week. Ana was with us for the weekend and, after taking her back to the train station yesterday, I went to see Mum. The staff were singing her praises and saying how she’d eaten six slices of jam on toast for breakfast. Mum seemed very lucid, but then began the conversations with herself again.

“So how do you like it here? – It’s OK I guess, but there’s not a lot to do. Is it Cocker?- I don’t really know. I just sit and watch.- Oh, that’s good though, isn’t it? – I suppose so…”

“I’ve got a fella!” she suddenly confessed.

“Oh, another one? Where is he?” I wondered, laughing.

“He’s here and there…but it’s like that…she came up and you know…DAWN,” she suddenly shouted, looking behind her, “Are they all right in there? – Yes, it’s Tatty and Blatty.- They’re OK then, the bobbies? – Yes. – That’s good then. Tee hee!”

A couple of times she had these conversations with ‘Dawn’ and about the bobbies and babbies.

Then she squashed her fore-finger and thumb like a mouth and said to it, “Isn’t that right babby-wabbies? – Are you not going to answer me then? – No, ‘cos we’re not really here!”

Then she exploded into hysterical laughter at the fun of it.

I was hard pressed to follow her today. But she was in good form and most of her soliloquies were positive. She enjoyed a back massage and took part in ordinary conversation too. She asked about the boys and the second time she added, “but I’ve asked that already, haven’t I?”

I wish I could record her words accurately, because I do find it fascinating. Her speech follows no normal logical syntax or semantic pattern. She also said something about being ‘ready to come out of her mind and be normal again’, but I forget the exact words. If only it were that simple, wouldn’t it be wonderful if she could choose!

I wanted to tell her my news, but didn’t. I’m pregnant again. Today I was busy making appointments for doctor/midwife and a haircut. I’m waiting to hear from Debbie too, because she’s finally gone over to Graemsay to show a prospective tenant around ‘Clett’. It will be good for the property to have someone living there – especially over the winter.


I took Conor on Sunday. Mum was in a gorgeous mood. She seems like the only sane one there now. There was a man wandering with his pants around his ankles, another kicking and fighting the nurses, another trying to grab hold of Conor – he was very brave, but his face told a different story. Mum just kept smiling through it all. I do want to get her settled somewhere a bit calmer.

On Tuesday I spent a leisurely morning preparing to go for my 8 week scan – enjoying a luxurious shower, admiring my firmly rounded abdominal shape and my boobs like huge ripe lychees. I felt beautifully pregnant. I wanted to go alone for the scan, because Simon was nervous and I wanted to stay positive. Entering the ward I encountered the nurse who had talked us through our last bereavement, 16 months ago…

The scan was the same as the first – almost exactly two years ago to the day. I went for a hot drink, devastated, sent Simon a text and drove home. I told the boys and tried not to feel anything.

I feel very blessed in my Spirit. Part of me, emotionally and physically, is scared about going through another miscarriage. The last one was almost unbearable. Isabelle came over to support me whilst I made arrangements with the hospital for a surgical evacuation (sounds very cold and clinical and I tried to keep my thoughts that way) and phoned school with my apologies. I shed my first tears for the baby I will never know. Isabelle accompanied me for the pre-op tests and forms. The operation was scheduled for Friday morning. I appreciated her company – spending over 3 hours in the hospital is never a pleasant experience.


On Friday – yesterday, I was there for eight and a half hours, but I drifted through most of that in anaesthetised, semi-consciousness.

And now it’s all over again. I still look and feel physically the same as I did on Tuesday morning. Emotionally I feel quite different, but I am still blessed.

I’ve not been to see Mum for a whole week. I hope to go tomorrow – for, if nothing else, she will be needing her laundry. And I need a ‘Mammy hug’.


Mammy intuitively knew that something was wrong, so I told her and enjoyed a proper cuddle. I had brought Christmas cards for her to send, as promised. I reminded her of people, like Wendy, Tony, Debbie etc. and as she approved, I wrote… “To Debbie…” and she added “and all”, which I wrote and then “with lots of love from Mum?” and she nodded and added again, “and all!” And so we continued for seven cards. She was dressed in a pretty, sparkly jumper, which I didn’t recognise, but I took a photo of her looking so lovely – the first I’ve taken since she went into hospital nearly 5 months ago.

I am trying to imagine the transition, which has to happen, from hospital to some new place. After all of her previously active outdoor life she has been cooped up in the hospital with not one walk out of doors for all of that time. I don’t know how it will be for her – exhilarating or unpleasant? Last week I told her about Tony, who is moving house yet again and she shuddered and said she was glad that she didn’t have to move. But she does.

Today I spoke at last to the Social Worker. He apologised for being so busy and said that he has seen Mum twice since. He observed her today – singing away, but then she became fixated on some thought or hallucination that distressed her for some time. He said that the ward staff had given a generally positive account of her mood, improvement and well-being. Apparently we are waiting on an overworked somebody who has to do another assessment, before we can look for a placement. It was hoped that we could have it done before Christmas, but this is not looking promising. When that is done we can all meet up and discuss the ‘What Next?’ question. I aired my concerns about taking Mum out after so long indoors. I would need to request a ‘consent for leave’ apparently (as she is still under Section 3), but it might be possible to take her out with a member of staff into the secure courtyard for a time and maybe, another day, take her for a walk around the grounds.

This next stage feels scary for me. I want to make sure that I get it right for her. I don’t think I did last time. I’m sure they will give me sound professional guidance.

It is nearly Christmas. This time last year, Mum was at home with us and Pat was around the corner. We just do not know what is around the corner and we really have to live the best of each day and be grateful for every blessing.


Today is the Epiphany 2009. Ana shared Christmas with us and has returned to London. I have Catalena with me now and Little John has been too. Friends are priceless.

My priority now is to do some thorough research of ‘homes’, so that I can find the perfect place for Mum to move in to.

I took the boys to the hospital on Christmas Eve. Josh was very worried. He hadn’t been to see Nana since she was sectioned back in August and he very nearly bottled out of performing in ‘a mad-house’. As the boys began to play the carols, Josh on guitar and Conor on flute, residents began to gather and join in the sing-along. Mum was right beside us, singing and blubbering happily. Before long the carers had brought half the ward along and we had to repeat our rather limited repertoire. It was a wonderful atmosphere. I went around with a box of Belgian chocolate biscuits and really felt that Christmas had finally arrived. It was amazing how these dear people, many of whom have forgotten who they are, yet, when the music begins, they can sing all three verses of ‘Away in a Manger’, word perfect. The power of music on the soul never ceases to strike me as remarkable.

Josh actually enjoyed the experience in the end. I am sure he will perform in alternative ‘mad-houses’ with his band. He did get a bit worried when one of the patients wanted to tidy his music book away whilst he was playing. ‘Who is this guy?’ Josh’s eyes mused. But he was pleased to have overcome his fear and done something good for his Nana and for others.

I was very proud of them both.

When we first arrived at the hospital Mum was looking more miserable than I’ve seen her for a long time. As I sat her down she was able to say that she ‘just wanted to go away – completely – and not come back’. She took pains to assure me that it wasn’t the place or anybody else’s fault, just her – ‘being mardy’. But the carols made her forget and she opened her presents and cards with child-like anticipation. It was a jolly Mum that we left behind.

A Boxing day photo from long ago – about 1978