Last of the Light

Mum keeps asking, during our conversation, ‘Where’s my soup?’

I have timed this call badly – in the middle of her lunch.

She is staying with her brother and sister.

She keeps calling my uncle by my brother’s name. She is astounded they share a mother. 

‘Horrified’, says my uncle, ‘horrified we share a mother’, and he laughs. So that mum does too – uncertainly, but a laugh, nonetheless.

‘Where’s my soup?’ She asks again, and then, for about the 3rd time during this brief and fractured conversation, ‘How are you, love?’

I tell her: ‘I am fine. Busy. It is dry’.

The rains are a long way off and as I talk I look out on a lawn which is torched yellow by wind and sun; when I walk across it, with bare feet, I curl my soles upwards to avoid the sharpness of desiccated grass: a bed of nails.

But she’s not interested. She’s not listening. She is buttering bread. She keeps stretching across the screen to reach for things. She knocks the device sideways so I end up staring at the ceiling.

My aunt helpfully sets me upright.

‘Anyway’, says mum finally, ‘I think you sound very busy, I think I better leave you to it’.

I smile, ‘Sure ma, chat in a day or so’.

And as I hang up I hear her again, ‘where’s my soup?’

I tell my sister later – I say, in a text, ‘very dissatisfactory conversation with mum, she was more interested in her food than me!’

My sister sends me a chuckling emoji: ‘me too, yesterday she kept asking when supper was, she wouldn’t shut up even when she was reminded that she’d just had two enormous bits of cake.  At least she’s enjoying her food’.

At least she’s enjoying her food. 

Her view on the world is getting narrower and narrower, there’s just a little chink of light now: as if a door has been left ajar and a shaft of brightness splinters a dark room hopefully and illuminates a slender slice of it. 

What when a gust of wind blows and slams that door shut, what then?

One Response to “Last of the Light”

  1. Addy Says:

    My sister-in-law’s husband is going through a similar phase. He cannot remember eating and so eats again. It is upsetting to see how he has declined in a matter of a few years. He now forgets what he was told a few minutes ago. Dementia is such a cruel disease.

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