Tuesday, 28 June 2016

This is my mother. The photo was taken about seven years ago. She's 91 now. She's been married twice, and both husbands are dead. So too her three brothers and two sisters. I am the only child. She has Alzheimer's disease.

She lives in a care home not far from where I live. I visit her twice a week, usually for about an hour.

She's lost the ability to speak coherently. She can't read, she can't write. Her memory, both short and long, has completely gone. She can still shuffle around, but the carers prefer to assist her, as she's prone to falling. Sleep is whenever she finds it, as she spends much of the night out of her bed. She wears incontinence knickers, because she sometimes loses control of her bowels. A bra is uncomfortable for her, so her breasts slump to her waist. Soft hair is growing along her cheeks. She's this tiny little thing, often asleep in a chair, and when I come to see her I sit beside her and stroke her face and ask for a kiss, clean around her mouth, wipe the drool off under her chin, use baby-wipes on her hands, give her a spray of Youth Dew, her favourite perfume, on her wrists, and know when she rubs her belly it's a signal she wants to use the toilet.

Is this life? What do we mean when we talk about life?