Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Mother Memories

I wasn't sure I was going to blog today. Rachel got almost fifty comments after writing a dozen words  yesterday and Tom Stephenson started writing about toilets and bras all of a  sudden, so I was at a bit of a  loss of what to share. Not a great deal has indeed happened. The Prof is away again so I am having a sneaky cinema trip later to see Eye In The Sky as a treat, but "inspiration" did eventually  strike as I flicked through the blog Cafe Muscato and saw a photo of the Russian society darling the Baroness Von Budberg-Bonningshausen. 
That slightly breathless haughty expression. That imperious " suffer no fools" icy stare. That lived in face, moulded by gin and cigs .
I was in fact,  looking at my mother in the latter part of her life


My mother died in a residential home which she hated. The " care" staff were generally inflexible and ill trained but the home was one of the few that would accommodate her smoking, so beggars could not be choosers. She had her own neat room and use of a shabby " staff room" where she could puff away at her cigarettes by the open fire door , so she and we, her family, were grateful , but like all institutions , she was placed on a "  care plan" which limited her smoking periods to times the staff felt it appropriate that they could supervise safely.
My mother resented this control bitterly, and fought every rule with the tenacity of a St Trinian Schoolgirl.
( I must note here that one of her biggest allies in the home was the cook, a woman that would often bend the rules to wheel my mother outside where she could puff away at her full tars under a spotty umbrella....strangely that cook eventually came to live in Trelawnyd and is now our Flower Show cookery judge!) 
I remember driving over to Wales from Sheffield one morning and when I arrived I was greeted by the home manager ( a woman I detested because she was rather common and sloppy). She told me that mother had been somewhat " buzzer happy" when requesting her morning fagtime and due to staffing issues, the staff had not been able to " organise" her break by the fire door for hours.
I told her firmly that I would do the supervising.
I dressed my mother and helped her into her wheelchair without a wash or even a hair brush and as she puffed away at the first cig of the day, her nerves subsided and she became more herself even though she looked like the wreck of the Hesperus.
The manager appeared at he door, obviously guilty at leaving my mother cigless for so long and started to talk to my mother in a patronising " we've had our little chats about these cigarettes before haven't we Joan?" kind of way. The manager standing at the door with all the power and my mother sitting in a shabby staff room on an incontinence pad with non...........I found myself starting to build myself up for a sharp little conversation about courtesy.
But I need not have worried. With fag in hand and with her hair looking like a bird's nest, my mother smiled her best hostess smile and trilled to the manager " This is my son, he's a charge nurse on a busy spinal ward in Sheffield and he would love a cup of tea if you would be kind enough to get him one..he's just driven 100 miles to see me"
The manager hesitated and my mother added with icy charm " Thank you soooooo much" .
The cups of tea duly arrived, served by a support worker who gave my mother a wink and as we sat in clouds of smoke drinking our drinks the manager appeared again to ask us if everything was ok
With her face the colour of putty my mother nodded graciously in victory and as the manager walked away, but not out of earshot, my mother turned to me , fag ash all splattered down her front , and said in a loud Maggie Smith stage voice " That woman is a real BITCH," 

71 comments:

  1. Even before you said it, I was picturing your mom as a Maggie Smith character.

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  2. Sadly I think that probably describes a lot of care home workers.

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  3. Oh, dear - now I have images of the Baroness Budberg in what over here in the U.S. of A. we call a "retirement home." She'd have run them ragged - and I'd have been on her side as you were your mother's. I hope I go in my sleep or have the sense to smother myself...

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  4. We all have our mother memories but yours would probably win hands down in any contest.

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  5. Small victories and blows for freedom must always be cherished.

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  6. I believe your mother had the appropriate people skills.

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  7. "I was greeted by the home manager ( a woman I detested because she was rather common and sloppy)"

    I would hate to have you assessing me

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    1. yeah John, god forbid someone might be 'common'...did you tell the gamekeeper to take her outside and shoot her?.... :-)

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    2. She was common and very unprofessional. Uncouth too.
      I stand by my words

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  8. Good for your Mother, small victories. My hubby's Nana ended her days in a lovely residential care home, where the staff wee pretty patronizing. She had an unusual Christian name and the carer said, `what should I call you my dear?', she replied most people call me MRS Tyrrell !!!

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  9. that should say were pretty patronizing not wee !!!

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  10. It is good that your Mum had you there for support John. I feel sorry for all the people in care homes who have no family or anyone on their side. No wonder so many wither and die due to lack of love or attention.

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    1. Simone, my mother was a difficult character, and i was lucky i lived a way away..my family who lived in wales had all of the hard work

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    2. John your mum wasn't difficult , she was a character who likes a cig and I'm pleased to say not all care workers are alike . I remember your mum sitting with the staff room door open and a fox use to come up the fire exit and eat out of her hand , It was a pleasure to have known her, Love your mum's smoking buddy x

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    3. Thank you for that comment. But she was difficult and i should know ...she was a dreadfully character as a mother... But as a client of that home i am sure she was a delightful and interesting character......i thank everyone who was kind to her

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    5. Like i said especially to you julie ..you were very kind to her x

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  11. Your last sentence made me me giggle. Good for her!

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  12. Okay. That's a great story.

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  13. I was steeling myself for a sad story, but it turned out to be uplifting instead - thank you!

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  14. I think I would have rather like your mum. I really like the photo and it it is not hard to link her features to your own. Curious as to how The Prof got along with you mother?

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    1. You have to remember that the photo was NOT my mother

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    2. How embarrassment. I blame jet lag.

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    3. Further, I did detect in her a square face and I see within your jowls :-P you have a similar chin to the Baroness. Why not a photo of your late mother?

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  15. My gran lived in a care home for the last year of her life.
    On first viewing before she moved in it looked a bit run down to family members, they were not keen in a 1980,s time warp, had 2 fat home cats and a little King Charles dog also too fat.
    Cushions in lounge not straight, place full of art tables , magazines.
    Country flowers on tables,
    Views to countryside.
    Owner was eccentric, would greet you in dressing gown in the morning.
    Care was homely and fantastic!.
    I arrived at 8 pm in summer to find gran n home manager planting lettuces, radio on both had wine on a nice summer evening.

    Precious.
    Sure not pc, but better than sanitised care planned home.
    She loved it there.
    When families tell me they have found a fantastic care home for mum or dad n it has doileys n chandeliers, I think scratch the surface, what is life like there, but smile and say nice!.

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    1. I like the sound of your grans care home, so much better than the usual 'institutions'. If I can't end my days in a little one roomed shack watching tele and living on scones and coffee, I hope I can find a care home like that one.

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    2. That relaxed care home of your grans sounds wonderful.

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    3. Not many of these kind of places around me thinks

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    4. Probably not but for now in Scotland we still have little family run care homes only having 6 to 8 people .

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  16. When my mom went to the nursing home, she had forgotten that she loved her cigarettes and coffee. She was in a miserable, sterile, uncaring place - and 2 thousand miles away. No snappy words from her. I would rather drive into the back end of a log truck than go into one of those places.

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  17. Good for your Mum ... some people just need talking to like that on occasion!!

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  18. I trust you then joined your mum in a gin and tonic which you had hidden on your person. Nice one John.

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    1. I never drank with my mother ever. I used to take her 2 miniature gins and a strawberry tart when i visited

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    2. I am glad you took her the G & T.

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  19. Am I allowed to adore your mother?

    XO
    WWW

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    1. She has been dead 13 years so adore away. I loved her but never adored her

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  20. The apple has not fallen far from the tree. She was a peach.

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    Replies
    1. I Have inherited her sharp tongue

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  21. Good for your mother for putting her in her place. I can visualize it now!

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  22. I know of a manager with similar qualities. No residents were allowed to sit in the small area by the entrance, with it's lovely sofas and fireplace, because, I quote, "they made the place look untidy"!

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    1. I had a manager who wanted everybody washed and dressed before they sat down for breakfast. She looked at me like I had two heads when I asked if she never age breakfast in her housecoat and slippers. Ever tried to get 9 elders with varying degrees of dementia and immobility washed and dressed in 45 minutes when there are only three staff on?

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  23. During my dad's eight years in a nursing home the majority of carers were wonderful but we encountered a few who should never have been in the job. The residents were at their mercy and I would drive home crying sometimes thinking of the hours my father and the rest would have to put up with them before one of the better workers would take over. It was a small proportion of workers but they made a disproportionate amount of misery for residents. My father asked me not to complain about them but he occasionally put them in their place, and I didn't feel a bit sorry about his conduct.

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    1. Great story, by the way, John, well told as always. I could picture it all.

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    2. Its what i remember jenny, i am not sure just how accurate it was though

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  24. Good for your mom! We paid a mint for my mom to be in good care and with 9 kids we were popping in at all hours so all was good and on the up and up.

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  25. Your mum sounded like she was a cracker, I'm glad she was able to speak up for herself. After spending nearly two months in a rehab/nursing home facility, one of the things that struck me most, was experiencing the complete polar differences, between caretakers. I roomed with a 94 year old dedicated Catholic lady, you wouldn't think she would say a word of improper language, but when certain caretakers were on our shift, she told it like it was.....and cussed like a sailor on shore-leave. It kept me entertained :)
    ~Jo

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    1. She was in facr a very difficult character jo all told

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  26. Why have I got an image of Lily Savage in my mind? X

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  27. Well they were both from liverpool

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  28. Your mum sounds like a tough old bird. There are not too many of that kind around these days - more's the pity.

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  29. 'Rather common'? You sound like my mother.

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  30. I wanna read Toms blog but it says does not exist when I click his name. Any ideas?

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    1. Just put tom stephenson blog into google...you'll find it.....good luck

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    2. http://tomstephenson.blogspot.com/

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    3. There's a side bar on this blog with it. Just click.

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  31. Good on your mum, great story John had a good laugh. I don't think you will ever not have a story to tell, if you missed a day we would wonder how to get on with the day.
    Cheers.

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  32. Ah, that's a great story.

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  33. Your mum sounded like one tough, old broad!

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    1. She was like robert mitchum with lipstick

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  34. Some people are bitches and I'm glad your mum had the last word. Truly I get upset when I hear stories like this , where the staff have control and the residents have none. I'm glad the cook was good to your mum and accommodated her smoking habit.

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  35. Bravo! I love her! I did a session recently at a national conference about the senseless taking away of rights and choices of persons in long term care.

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  36. That picture made me smile. A posh Enna Sharples and a version of my granny!

    I worked in Long Term Care on a smokers unit. Didn't bother me at all.

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  37. A friend's Mother was bed ridden in a nursing home and when the night nurses refused to acknowledge her call button, she used her phone and called 911 (emergency)! When the police and fire department showed up a few times the nurses decided to cooperate.

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  38. Something polite but said in a 'certain' way can be quite something to hear can't it?

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  39. I absolutely love people like your Mum :)

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  40. I absolutely love people like your Mum :)

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  41. So that's here Winnie gets it from!

    Old age care provision is the welfare scandal of our age and thankfully my father was only in it a few weeks before he died and his carers were lovely - he even found one who had been in the RAF to gossip with.

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  42. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚❤️I love it❤️πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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  43. oh this story brings back so many memories for me. my mother spent the last 12 yrs in nursing homes. while she lost her memory, ability to speak and feed herself she never ever lost the desire to smoke. you are such a great story teller john. x

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  44. oh this story brings back so many memories for me. my mother spent the last 12 yrs in nursing homes. while she lost her memory, ability to speak and feed herself she never ever lost the desire to smoke. you are such a great story teller john. x

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