Latest entry in the conversational notepad:
“Did you see the marshmallows I got for your mocha?”
She doesn’t drink mocha, so it was just for me… and I didn’t ask!
Mum has a strange habit of vanishing completely. Not just in shops, but at home, when there are just the two of us around, plus cats. I decide to go and ask her something, and wander downstairs… and she’s not there. I go round all the rooms, then look out through the windows, then do a little tour of the garden and the sheds, and come inside again. No Mum.
It’s only when I’ve given up and am heading back upstairs with a mug of coffee that I suddenly come face to face with her… she just appears.
Sometimes she will have been right there, walking out of a room behind me, and then I stop and turn round, and there’s no sign of her. Maybe she stayed where she was, so I go back and check, and she’s not there. I check several empty rooms in the vicinity, then go upstairs, searching, and come back down, scratching my head… and she’s standing there as though she’s been there the whole time.
When we’re all in the garden, and Mum suddenly disappears, she will have crawled behind a bush with a pair of secateurs, wearing camouflage. She does the same things in shops; if you can’t see her despite a careful sweep of the premises, it’s usually because she’s stooped down behind something, or is slowly ambling away in the wrong direction.
The spookiest thing of all is when there’s a strong cold breeze, and you go downstairs to find the front door is standing wide open to the heavy rain shower beyond. And there’s no sign of Mum. She’s nowhere downstairs, or upstairs, or in the garden, or in the sheds. The car is still parked and empty. There’s just silence, the open door and the rain…
I’ve had sore eyes for weeks, along with an associated headache. I buy moisturizing drops (the kind I can use every day if I want… some aren’t good for that), and have also bought omega capsules (which I keep forgetting to take). I’ve tried going to bed early, turning off the computer for days on end, and have had midday siestas with a wet cloth over my eyes.
Nothing seems to work.
Mum was at the doc today, and while she was there, she said “my younger daughter is complaining she’s got bloodshot eyes and nothing seems to help.” The doc said, “it’s probably allergy… lots of people have been coming in with sore eyes just now, because of all the pollen flying about. I’ve been giving them moisturizing drops.”
Talk about being treated at a distance… it makes me think of women lying behind a curtain, only allowing the doctor to see one limp hand.
I don’t hear Mum too well, especially when I’ve had a shower (wet ears and no hearing aids), so there are conversational notes scattered all over the house. The other day I found this one:
Mum: I bought the Triffids the day I went to start midwifery training. 54 years ago exactly.
Me: I woke up with a hurrble stomach ache. Hordes of screaming bacteria rushed over the hill, waving their tomahawks and shooting fire arrows, so my body waded in with sandbags and squelched them.
Mum: Have a swig of Domestos!
Mm… thanks but no thanks… my body needs supporting troops, not corrosive poison.
Mum glanced in the room, and saw the Invisible Sulk sprawled on my printer.
“How did you know you had to sit there?” she said. “Do you know the name of the cat who used to sit there? Did his ghost speak to you?”
The Invisible Sulk gave her a look, then turned round and settled back down with his back to her.
“He says, ‘what ghost? There’s no ghost'” I said.
It’s just a nice place to sit.
Earlier I had gone downstairs to get fresh juice. Mum was sitting playing Hoyle cards on her Mac.
I told her the girl kitten was bored, and was jumping all over me with her claws.
“I don’t know why they won’t come down here and play,” said Mum.
Then I said I was trying to work out why Father Ted was so funny.
“I don’t find it funny,” said Mum, staring at her virtual cards.
In the split instant before she said it, I knew she was going to say it, even though the other day I said I always rather liked Father Ted, and she nodded and said “yes.”
She always says she doesn’t find things funny, and it takes a little of the fun out of it for me – unless it’s something I don’t find funny either. Sometimes I think…. but that’s just paranoia talking!
I stood quietly for a moment, then twirled into the kitchen to get my juice.
“You never find anything funny,” I shot back, not sure why I was annoyed.
Mum spluttered – “I just don’t find it funny, Diddums, don’t know why.”
I got my juice and went to the bottom of the stairs, about to start up, and two little kittens who had been crouched there, eavesdropping on our conversation, turned round and hurried back upstairs again.
I chuckled, and Mum said “they’re wondering what you’re doing down here in Enemy Territory.”
Fair question… I hope they hold back on the thumbscrews.
Yet more motherly moments…
Whenever it rains hard, there’s a Very Big Puddle that stretches from one side of the road to the other. I was so deep in thought when walking Thundercloud that I only noticed it was there when we were right on the lip of it, with two cars poised to barrel though.
“Uh oh,” I said, and stopped dead. Thundercloud looked apprehensive as well.
Fortunately the cars tiptoed gently through, and the puddle did no more than ripple.
At home I said, “I expect it was because of Thundercloud. ‘We can’t get the nice dog all wet.'”
“Absolutely,” said Mum. “If it had only been you, they have roared through it.”
Boxing Day Crisis – my cat Sharky came along and sat on me, stared intently into my face, and started to heave ominously. ‘Hyuk-hyuk-hyuk…’
Not wanting a hairball in my face, I picked him up and hastened to the back door… which was locked! With the cat still hyukking in my arms, I wrestled with the key in the lock, praying it wouldn’t stick. Finally got the door open and pushed Sharky half outside, where he obligingly brought up a small puddle of grass and foam.
Sigh. I think he does it to bully me. It’s his way of saying “I was so hungry I had to eat grass.” There is dry cat kibble both upstairs and downstairs for snacks – Mum called him Oliver Twist only the night before, when he got some turkey out of her at bedtime and then a foil pouch of meat out of me.
Leaving the kitchen, I grumbled “the back door always seems to be LOCKED!” and stumped off upstairs to wash my hands and check myself for any damp patches.
When I returned downstairs, Mum seemed genuinely puzzled, enquiring “what was all THAT about?”
When I explained, she laughed and said, “ohhhh, I see. I should nominate you for the Olympics.”
After a moment she chortled again, saying, “it certainly woke you up. There won’t be any more of that noisy yawning.”
My littlest teddy bear yawned very loudly at that point, and Mum glared…
Some of the TV was so boring it led to some real whimpering gapes from me… I couldn’t help it. The only two things that engaged my attention on Boxing Day were Garfield and… actually, that was about it. When watching the other things, I kept oozing away to sort out some of the stuff in my cubby hole.
I completed a What Lord of the Rings Character Are You? questionnaire. In one that doesn’t exist any more, I was Pippin, but when I did the above different one, it said I was Frodo.
I told Mum this, and at first she was bewildered (despite having read the book and seen all the films). “Frodo? Which one is Frodo??”
“The one with the Ring!”
“Oh, THAT hobbit, I remember now.”
Short pause. Then…
“You’re definitely a Frodo, I quite agree. Frodo was the mournful one.”
Big Sister has her moments as well. She bought Mum an iPod for Christmas, and we were sitting in the coffee shop (having left Mum coughing and sneezing at home) discussing in my notepad what else we were were going to get. Sister said, “I’m thinking of getting an iTunes card – either £15 or £25?”
I said “I suppose you will have to download something the first time, to show her what to do.”
She took the pen and scored out ‘you’, replacing it with ‘you’.
I had a funny feeling I was reusing old titles without remembering. I would have called this one Mother Wit if I hadn’t been reposting my old posts from Blogigo – it’s seems there’s a Mother Wit already there.
More recent motherly moments…
Me (watching a cat sitting with her chin and paws on the doorsill of the new cat bed): “Has Cheeky left it at all today?”
Mum: “She popped out for some supper then went straight back in.”
Me (with a heartfelt sigh): “Oh! I would love to be a cat if I could live a life like that.”
(Cheeky gave me a good long green stare from under her eyebrows).
Me: “Can I be a cat please? …Why not? …she’s giving me a lowering look.”
Mum: “She says you haven’t the genes for it.”
On TV a young woman was being interviewed. She stated that whenever she went shopping she took a family-sized bar of chocolate with her. Whenever she got in a bad mood, her mother made her eat it and she was so much better afterwards.
I mused over this a little, then turned my head to find Mum fervently offering me a bar of chocolate.
After shopping, we got into the car, and Mum said “we’ll just go home and have lunch, rather than go to your house.”
“OK,”I said, relieved. “My stomach was rumbling in all the shops.”
“Was that you? I thought it was a thunderstorm.”
Getting into the back of my sister’s car, I grumbled that it was full of leaves and twigs from the last lot of garden rubbish she had taken to the dump. Mum turned round and enquired, “is there a hedgehog hibernating back there?”
(One of the fall-outs from restricted bin timetables – you can’t get into our cars wearing anything nice, and sometimes you can’t stow anything in our cars because they’re already full of stuff waiting to go to the tip. Once Mum had to drive round the recycling plant in a complete circle then start round it all over again because it was clogged with all the other people who had driven in to recycle things).
Coffee tastes better with salty food! Is it just me? I like my coffee slightly sweet but not too much, and I’ve heard melon has more zing if you put a little salt on along with the sugar. We used to put salt on our porridge as well as sugar; our cousins thought that was a horrible idea.
Maybe it’s just us, then.
Yesterday I was taking more stuff to the charity shops. I was positively cheerful as I climbed in the car, and said, “goodbye to Thomas Hardy!”
“You should chuck him out,” responded Mum. “Nobody will want him.”
“What?” I said, horrified – “students will want him. I think.”
“Naaaah,” said Mum.
The cats are unsettled by the uncanny way this house has of getting emptier. Every time I start filling bags, Sharky races out of the house with his tail in the air. I wonder if he worries that one day I will leave the house with a final trolleyful of goods and never return; and they will have to drink from puddles and eat snails, and sleep in the cold darkness of a silent house.
They’ve lost their appetites.
Sharky has clambered onto the sofa with me. I was supposed to ditch my sofa – but won the battle to take it with me. I’ll have it upstairs in a sitting room of my own, so that, when we fall out, Mum can brood over her TV set while I brood over mine.
Mothers being mothers (and daughters being daughters), the moving and redecorating isn’t without certain hitches and glitches.
“You can have everything just the way YOU want,” says Mum, both generously and admonishingly.
“Why did you put the books there? All books must go up in the loft!”
“All MY books are in the loft.”
Hmm, well, fair enough. She’s had to make room for me. [Removes books from bookcase. Carries bookcase to the foot of the loft ladder].
“Where are you taking THAT?”
“Up in the loft…?”
“Why? We need it down here.”
“You can put all your bears in it.”
“But it’s a BOOKcase. Where the books go, IT goes.”
Mum recognizes from tone of voice that Diddums has dug her heels in.
I can have my bookcase (with books in it), but in a different corner of the room. Still, the next time she says, with a patient sigh, “don’t ask me; YOU put it the way YOU want it,” I’ll laugh, cry, and collapse in a twitching heap.
Edit March 2008: Comments to this post when it was on the old site:
1. Timorous Beastie wrote at Mar 1, 2007 at 14:41:
I like my porridge with salt too. I admire your bravery, moving in with your mum. Good luck with the move.
2. Pacian wrote at Mar 1, 2007 at 22:34:
Good luck with moving both yourself and your belongings! 🙂
Listening to: Ghostly song in my head: ‘Tide is High’ by Blondie
Well, she may be getting old, but she still has far more energy and determination than I do. She gets things done while I’m still drawing up lists and talking about it.
Edit Feb 2008: Comments for this entry when it was on the old site:
Pacian wrote at Feb 5, 2007 at 15:45:
I’m 23 and I just draw up the lists and don’t even talk about it.
kateblogs wrote at Feb 6, 2007 at 00:54:
You are still finding yourself. Your time will come. Well, that’s my excuse 🙂
Diddums wrote at Feb 6, 2007 at 08:00:
Maybe you’re right. We had a mother and daughter dog, and it wasn’t till the mother dog ‘popped off’ that the daughter dog seemed to relax, stretch, sigh, and gain confidence.
Bunnyman wrote at Feb 6, 2007 at 22:28:
My mum was 80 in December. She went off to London to see Chicago and have a night on the town. Admittedly she’s beginning to wobble a bit on her feet but she still manages her keep fit class every Thursday, and she insists on going down to the local tea shop for her regular Friday natter with her pals. Although she might talk about eventualities, she gives me the feeling she’ll still be around for some time to come.
“Number o-one, number o-one …” You’ve even got me at it now!
Diddums wrote at Feb 6, 2007 at 23:23:
Too late – I’ve moved on to ‘Heart of Glass’ now! Heh heh.
Everybody’s mother seems to be a powerhouse of energy – I wonder where they get it from? My mother’s coffee-house coven is on Saturdays. Maybe it’s in the tea and coffee they all drink?
Here’s a blog entry about my mother! She has a lighter touch than I do; a gentler hold on life. Philosophical is the word, but not in a sad way. She could be quite fiery and my sister and I knew better than to get her riled, but she’s mellowed over the years. The humour is still good and the temper is less short (unless we’re on holiday). I hope I will be the same, as it’s no fun getting in a strop about everything.
An example of her type of humour: she picks up on detail that you’ve forgotten! She was helping me with something in my garden a while ago – I kept saying to her “be careful when you go over there – don’t step on the woodlouse, spider, earwig or snail!” (I was too late to save the wasp). She didn’t comment much, but some time after that my sister and I were helping her in her garden. She turned to me all of a sudden and said “don’t rescue any snails! I don’t WANT any snails rescued!”
“I haven’t SEEN any snails,” I said, and she said they sneak up behind you and give you a scare, they’re so big.
A wee while later I said to her “you didn’t say I couldn’t rescue any spiders”… I also managed to rescue several worms, a ladybird, a shield bug, a cochlea-shaped thing (unidentified) and a strange flat spider lurking on the underside of a board. Mum sneaked up behind me with a snail and said “boo!” I looked at it, unimpressed. “I’ve got BIGGER snails.” All the same, she knows me well….