“Mam says she’s getting ready to die.” HWIOO came into the kitchen looking worried. “She woke up in the middle of the night, got out of bed, had a dizzy turn and fell backward onto the bed. She says it jarred her head and it made the lampshade spin.”
“Oh dear.” I frowned. “We’re heading North in two days. Doesn’t the nurse go to see her once a week?” It’s true that my mother-in-law has become increasingly frail ever since she fell running for a bus a couple of years ago and your guess is as good as mine about the number of pills, tablets and potions she consumes these days. I should think the side effects are having side effects as a consequence of the side effects.
On Saturday morning HWIOO awoke at quarter past one. Unfortunately he thought it was six o clock but thankfully realised his error before he woke me up. Its one of the strangest aspects of CFS. He can be absolutely exhausted but unable to sleep. So, he lay in bed thinking of jobs that need doing around the house and composing lists in his head.
By the time we actually hit the road he’d remembered that Mam has taken drastic measures on several occasions over the years with regard to her own mortality. On the first occasion, when she reached three score and ten and only for that reason, she wrote a will and listed what she wanted everyone to have, except she kept changing the ornaments in her living room so her list turned into a series of crossings out. Then she purchased sticky labels which she inscribed with the names of her four children. Everything in her possession was accordingly labelled so that for weeks afterwards there was a flurry of white rectangles every time she did her dusting. Then we all realised what was going on and began to check the inheritance – no one wanted the larger than life and twice as ugly pottery king charles spaniel with collar and menacing expression. That label was changed regularly until Mam got wise to what was going on and selotaped the label into place. Sadly HWIOO happened to be the unlucky winner.
I got my own back by removing a label from the back of the Princess Diana plate and replacing it with someone else’s name.
The last time Mam thought she was dying she gave all her bling away and the time before that she had a good clear out of all her cupboards so that everything would be neat and tidy.
When we arrived we were relieved to see that she was no more frail than usual. “Don’t get old son,” she told HWIOO, “It’s nothing but hard work.”
“Nice Christmas decorations Mam.” It was an attempt to steer the topic onto cheerier ground.
“It was Sally (the cleaner) who did it. I can’t be bothered with Christmas at my age. Now then son,” she rifled a small table by the side of her chair until she found what she was looking for. “I was wondering if you’d get me a few things.”
“I’d like two Christmas dinners, six mince pies, a christmas pudding and two packets of chocolate caramels.”
Clearly the Christmas effects of a shop that purports to have magic and sparkle at this time of the year should not be underestimated.
Before we left to come home I checked under the china dog. It’s still got WHIOO’s name on its bottom but then so has the Princess Diana plate and a china crinoline lady. Lucky man.