On Saturday morning I phone Colin to say I'm coming over to visit and to see Mum. "Don't bother, you know what'll happen, you'll only be upset" . He is right of course but I have to go, I have to visit, she is my Mum and even if she doesn't want to see me, I have to see her, have to show I care and that I love her. It is just in there, you can't just let go.
"Okay. if you're coming through, buy her some new slippers she really could do with them". Great something to do, something to clutch on to, rather like a drowning man lurches for a lifebelt, I head off to shopping centre for slipper sustanence.
Slippers, already I have fallen into fantasy land and I am skipping (oh yes skipping a la Michael McIntyre happy skipping) in there clutching the slippers, big smile at the ready and mother thrilled. Birds are singing, colours are bright, bloody hell Karon, any minute now Prince Charming will stride forth clutching the glass slipper and all will be well in the world.
I buy the slippers, rosy red and cozy. They look unwrapped in the photo don't they? You're wrong. They are fully gift wrapped. They are all wrapped up in lashings of love. Delicate tissues of memories, pretty papers of photographs and tied with the bonds of the years, the strings of the heart.
They are my calling card, my Reason To Visit, my key, my entry for today into Mum's world.
Colin can't come with me as he isn't well enough. I go forth alone, armed only with the slippers and chocolate.
"Where's Colin, why isn't he here?", "They'll never fit me". I put her foot into the slipper. She is right, it doesn't fit. Strange, it is a 5-6 her size. "Get Colin to deal with it, he'll get it right". "You're far too thin, no wonder you've got no romance". "Is Idgy allright?"."I'm tired. leave me alone".
Okay I'm upset, but I'm not knocked out. I drive to Tesco in town and exchange the slippers for a different style and larger size. Back again to the care home. Mum has eated the chocolate by now, so at least I did something right. "Let's try these " I coax. I lift her old feet and try to put on the slippers. they still don't fit. I can't beleive it. "Can't you get anything right". Oh Mum you don't need to say that, I am berating myself by the minute here.
Drive back to Tesco again and get another pair of bloody slippers. Now these are a size 8. I take a size 8 and I am a 5 foot 8 1/2 inch tall Amazonian bordering on being an Avatar in size, these must fit someone who has size 5 feet.
Back to the care home clutching my trusty shoe bag. On knees again and trying to slip her feet inside. No, jammed again, they don't fit. As I am already down on my knees I utter a prayer in my tear sodden state, "Oh God help me please".
One of the staff meets me on the stairs. "You're not back again with those slippers are you?". I tell her my sorry tale, she pats my shoulder and offers a seat. "give me the shoes pet, let me try". She goes away clutching the saga sodden slippers . Meanwhile the manageress chats and tells me Mum's news. Nothing much to report really, the situation deteriorates she goes more into her world. Still happy to see her friends once a week, those stalwards who come every week regardless of their welcome, still wants my brother around.
The nurse is back." Those slippers are fine, bit big really, but they'll do just nicely". I sit stunned, how did she do it? "Your Mum just didn't want them to fit, she bunched up her toes and there was no way you would ever get her foot into any slipper. I just straightened her foot and pulled on the slipper" she said. "Oh I'm used to these old people and their tricky ways".
This made me cry all the more, as ever I stumble from the place and head off home. All in all 3 hours driving, 3 pairs of slippers, getting stopped 17 times at traffic lights in one small town. Stress and tears (I'm quite sure the person who commented on my blog the other day re my mindfulness post, would say this serves me right) my usual combination.
Saturday night and it is curl up by fire with a good companion named Chardonnay. Now is not the time to hold on to anything at all. Thoughts and emotions, let it go, watch it all bounce and spin out of control. Don't even try to stop, let it rip. Tell the child within that days are gone, see the past fly away, lose contact, let it go.
So easy to say, not easy to do. I can't stop the love. It is there and no matter what she says or does, I will love her forever. I will keep trying, never give up. The red shoes, whatever next…….