The Wrong Words

I am useless with the predictive text thing on my phone. it’s not that I can’t spell, it’s that I always try and do it too fast as I am usually trying to juggle a million things all at the same time and I press send before I check through the message.

Prime example, I have just sent a friend a message explaining why I didn’t reply to her message yesterday and blamed trying to coordinate the workmen who are updating our kitchen worktops and the toilets! Except I am not coordinating toilets, I am coordinating tilers!


I seem to do it all the time – at least once a day. On Sunday I did it to one of those large Whats app groups of Year 3 mums and I had to hang my head in shame for a few moments afterwards hoping that the rest of the mums didn’t think that either I was already drinking (I was) or that I was slightly insane (I’m not!).

Other than the use of the word “prey” instead of “sorry” in my group message, it was a lovely day. Hubby and I were out Saturday night and so once the rain cleared at lunchtime we took the brood out for a lollop through some muddy woods to help clear our heads.

Before Mabel fell in the puddle!

We bribed them with the promise of a very delicious Betty’s cupcake at our destination, which worked and even Mabel didn’t moan too much. So, all in all the expedition was a success. Mabel did manage to thrown herself to the ground, tripping and stumbling comically over absolutely nothing and landing in a very large brown puddle just as we were about to greet a small yellow Labrador puppy who was bounding towards us, tail wagging happily. She muddied her very flowery leggings (this devastated her), scraped her hand and managed to scare off the adorable puppy with her ear-splitting screaming, much to Martha’s chagrin. The chocolate cupcake helped. She is after all, her mother’s daughter!

My mum has been on my mind a lot this weekend. The news that she has declined quite noticeably over the past two weeks hit me like a train on Saturday. I also found out that my dad has been to look around a care home and was very impressed. They offer a week’s respite for the same cost as a family holiday to far off lands and he is considering this to 1. give himself a break and 2. see how she copes in that environment. They do lots of activities with their residents apparently and she would have her own room and it all sounded very lovely.

I thought this is what I wanted to hear. For months I have been waiting for my dad to get to the point where he is ready to discuss the future and what is inevitably around the corner but he wasn’t ready and it was not right to try and push him into anything, he had to get there on his own and it seems that despite not being fully ready to let her go, he is ready to now look into the options available to him. Funny though that now he has arrived at this point, I find myself unprepared emotionally for it. Oh, I know for absolute certain that it is what is needed for both my parents: Mum has no life right now and perhaps an environment where she is helped to do activities each day and is supported by professional dementia-carers would stimulate her in a way my dad simply cannot. Dad is tired. Tired, exhausted, sad and he would never say so but I believe he is lonely. Removing the burden of being my mother’s sole carer would perhaps allow him to rejoin life again. Though instead of worrying about his welfare and his health due to him being virtually house-bound I find myself now worrying about how he will cope without her.

I also have a vision of my mother, not the new one, the one that struggles to speak, refuses to eat much and falls asleep with her trusty handbag, filled with strange objects sat neatly on her lap. No, I think of the real Mum: The dancer, the matriarch, the competent, strong lady who would fix whatever I needed fixing; whether that was a broken blind or my broken heart. I imagine her sitting in a care home, surrounded by the very elderly and the very infirm and my heart feels like it is shattering into tiny pieces in my chest, each of those pieces is piercing other parts of me, so that my lungs feel tight, my eyes sting, my throat gasps frantically at air and my whole body crumples. The one person I want to ring and talk to about how I feel and to ask for advice on how to make it all better is my mum. She’d fix it. Somehow she would.

I lost control of my emotions and felt my heart shatter on Sunday, while we were playing a card game after my family had devoured their Sunday roast. Radio 2 was playing and I heard the Barbara Dickson and Elaine Paige duet “I know him so well” begin. It took me back about 30 years to a family holiday in France and my mum’s cassettes dominating the car stereo on our long journey, the three of us safe and snug in the back of our Renault estate with our pillows for comfort. It’s strange how a song can just transport you back to that moment isn’t it? I could smell the warm French air and feel my pillow propped up against my cheek against the window. I could see my mum singing along in the front seat and feel my sister’s sleeping head drop heavily against my shoulder. I removed myself from the table before the kids could notice and wailed silently and painfully in my bedroom for five minutes before returning to finish the game.


My girls didn’t notice, but Archie did. “Are you okay, Mummy?” he asked.

The real words to say, the truth would have been, “No, sweetie, I’m not okay just now. I’m feeling really bloody sad and low and I can’t see how I’m ever going to not feel this sad.”

But, I didn’t. I said: “I’m okay, sweetie. That song just reminded me of Granny and made me sad for a minute. Now, whose turn is it and who do I need to beat?”

Like my accidental text messages, the words I used were the wrong ones, they were inaccurate. But, in that moment when I used them, I thought they were the right ones to use.


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