Dementia: A Motherless Lamb

My boy is home after a 5-day school trip.

It was a school trip to Wales and they’ve had an action-packed week full of activities and adventure. The sun shone and he and all his classmates have returned, dirty, exhausted and slightly sun-kissed.

archie 3

Slightly different from my first school trip. We went to Stainforth in Settle, which was just 35 miles away from our village. We stayed in a youth hostel and the biggest adventure was when we were out walking (again) and as one of our teachers climbed a stile by a country lane, a car full of teenage boys drove past at speed and threw an egg at her. It hit her on her back. I remember laughing nervously. What hoodlums there were in the country! And, that poor woman….. she was only about 25 at the time and as if being away with about one hundred 10-year old kids wasn’t torture enough!

We walked a lot. It must have been spring time as there were lots of lambs. I remember one lamb crying for its mother on one of our treks across many cow-pat splattered fields and then finding a dead sheep a couple of fields away. It haunted me for months what that little lamb would do and how it would survive.

Oh, the irony.

I hated that trip. I hated it because of the lamb and its dead mother. I hated it because the hostel was an old haunted building that freaked me out. I hated it because in a game of rounders, one girl threw the bat behind her and it walloped me on my forehead. The large, motherly cook took my tear-stained face into her hefty bosom and then told me that the best cure was butter. She then went on to smear butter all over my forehead, which of course resulted in everyone laughing at me.

I hated it because my mum and dad made me take my brother’s old walking boots instead of normal trainers. Proper, heavy, industrial walking boots. Not like the ones my kids have now. There were no bright, girly materials or light synthetic fabrics to make walking boots cool and trendy. Instead, they were leather and dark brown and very very sturdy. I could hardly lift them never mind walk briskly in them! I was ashamed of them and embarrassed by my geeky family and my own geekiness.

I also hated it because I had started with my first ever bout of insomnia (there have been a few more since) and spent most of the week in a state of panic about not being able to sleep.

My mum was a very involved mum. She went on a number of school trips with us all over the years. I remember her preparing for a trip with my brother and I must have been around 11 years old. I think they were going abroad and I  remember crying at night and asking her not to go. I remember her suggesting to my dad that perhaps she should stay at home and him telling her that I’d be fine and that of course, she should go. I remember pleading with her through an avalanche of tears, trying to persuade her to stay.

She didn’t stay.

Just like now, despite the pleading I have done in my head and through tears no one else sees, she had to go.

Thankfully, Archie’s school trip was a huge success. He loved it and despite a bit of nervous trepidation on Monday morning, he returned home on Friday smiling.

I got him home and after cooking him his favourite dinner, I encouraged (also read: physically threw) him in the shower for a good wash. We then snuggled on the sofa and picked a random film to watch for an hour, while Hubby cooked my dinner and before the kids were sent to bed.

Netflix recommended a film for me called The Notebook. I had a quick read of the blurb; it was rated a 12 and as Archie is now 11 and a half I reckoned that was fine. Martha was at a friend’s and Mabel would only be staying up for half an hour. I also reckoned that she’s watched the Spider-man films, most of the Marvel films and also likes a good Poirot or Miss Marple. She’s actually pretty good at following a plot line and I thought a romantic easy-watching film about a couple who fall in love in the 1940’s would be very tame and quite nice.

It starred Ryan Gosling, which was nice. I mean, his eyes are slightly too close together but for some reason, it works. It works very well indeed. And, Rachel McAdams who is lovely.

No one warned me. No one had ever said, “you might want to watch / to not watch this film.”

I had no idea!

You see, in the end it all transpires that she has dementia and doesn’t know him, yet despite this he continues to read to her every day and tries to connect with her through her old notebook. Sweet Baby Jesus I was in bits! Archie was still snuggled next to me as my tears fell all over his clean curls.

“Are you alright, Mummy?”

I managed to blub and yelp between sobs that I was feeling a bit sad and he went and brought me the loo roll from the downstairs cloakroom so I could mop up the flood that was pouring from every hole in my face.

He hugged me hard.

Earlier in the evening, I had asked my boy if anyone had got upset throughout their week away.

“I did,” he told me. “On the last night.”

I hadn’t been expecting that. In fact, I don’t really know why I asked the question.

“I just really missed you and wanted to come home,” he went on. “But, then everyone else got upset too, so quite of few of us were crying.”

Great! Just what the exhausted teachers needed on their last night. I gave him a big mummy cuddle and told him it was okay to get upset and miss your family. It was perfectly normal. I also told him he would remember that trip for the rest of his life and the friends he shared it with.

I didn’t tell him that even when he’s 40, and he’s all grown-up with his own kids to worry about and keep him busy, it will be normal to still want, need and at times, cry for his mummy, just like I do and like that tiny lamb did all those years ago.

But then, I don’t think I needed to.

He already knows.



I miss you, Mum x

4 thoughts on “Dementia: A Motherless Lamb

Add yours

  1. I’ve never seen The Notebook and now I think I shall avoid it. I don’t cry at much but this one… well, and some of your others… and I guess some of your dad’s….
    Oh hell. Hugs and love from over here.


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