To see Mum last Wednesday. I arrive to be told by reception that two people on her floor have died since my last visit. One was H who was unable to speak or feed herself but had the most luminous smile that lit up her whole face. I sympathise with reception and they reply, much more sadly, that the rabbit has also died. The noticeboard announcement for the rabbit is much bigger than for the humans. English sentimentality about animals always takes me aback.
Up for lunch with Mum, who is on good form. A relative at the next table, in his sixties, is eating with his family. Mum nods disapprovingly at the fact that he has taken his socks and shoes off. He hears us speaking French and tries to engage, mostly to tell us that he has had to interrupt his holiday to come and visit his dying father. I sympathise but am told ‘it will be a deliverance’. Have not seen this man before in the year I have been visiting Mum. His father is the delightful A, who smiled charmingly and played the piano on any available surface.
We sit in the garden in the sunshine and watch the Tour de France on my tablet. Then we go down for a musical interlude with a singer straight from the clubs, with a good voice but rather annoying patter. A medley of Elvis, Vera Lynn, Tom Jones, etc follows. Three ladies in a row in large chairs, which are used to ferry them about as they are unable to walk and are pretty immobile and incommunicative, mouth the words to all the songs. Another lady gets up and dances with a carer and when I compliment her, she says rather wickedly, ‘ I used to love to dance…so many boyfriends.’
Mum plays along to the rhythm and smiles, we do a bit of wheelchair dancing. Then the singer plays ‘Unforgettable’.
The three ladies sing along, word perfect. I find myself in tears – they all have advanced dementia, but some things touch the cord of memory.