In memory of mum, 1929 – 2016

40 blogs of Lent — day 22

Yesterday was Mum’s birthday, tomorrow will be Mothering Sunday. It will be four and a half years since she passed away, and this time of year is a poignant reminder of her, and particularly who she was before dementia cruelly changed her personality. The old mum was always there even in these latter years, but it was as if her personality was like a broken plate that had been glued together in different ways, each time different. You never knew who the person who looked like mum would be. But spending time with her and the real Mum could always be found in there, thought the first 20 minutes could be difficult.

Mum and Dad in happier times. (Mum was not balancing a bottle on her head.)

You only learn how much you miss someone after the event. In February 2018, 17 months after Mun had died, I settled down to watch the film Still Alice, about a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s. I could not watch it, it was too good, the depiction of Alzheimer’s was too realistic, and I thought enough time had gone for the grieving process to be advanced enough that I could cope with it. I was wrong. I still want to see that film, but as Dad has now developed dementia as well it will have to wait.

Mum was one of the world’s good people. Not only had she time for the six of us kids who were at home, and our friends who would inevitably be there, but later when we had all flown the nest there were neighbourhood children who would be in the house, caring for them whilst parents were working or ust because she created an atmosphere where children wanted to be there. She always dealt with the individual.

An example of this was that although she never knew I had autism, yet when my behaviour got a little edgy se would send me to my room as a punishment. But it was not much of a punishment as the boys’ bedroom was where the bookcase was. When I was told I could now come down, I would stay where I was, engrossed in a book, more often than nor following a chain reference of things in an encyclopedia, though I was never any good at reading novels, more went unfinished than were completed. But even while not knowing how to treat an autistic child, Mum did the right thing by doing what was effective.

I never got around to telling Mum I was autistic. The day I meant to the conversation drifted, Mum told me that when the school had recommended I see a psychologist she thought it ridiculous as I was intelligent. I decided to leave it. She was already at that time showing signs of dementia and I was in the house to look after her and allow Dad a break from 24/7 caring.

Mum, I miss you.

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