Mum’s dementia diagnosis had a very profound effect on my life and there is no doubt that having a loved one with dementia changes you. It changes everything. But I am committed to making sure that those changes are positive ones. To help me cope with my grief I wrote the story of our journey through Mum’s illness. I wasn’t very academic at school, only scrapping a grade C in CSE English, so I was very surprised to receive some really positive feedback.
It was this feedback that inspired me to write the story of my life. Since a very young age, I have always felt that I was special. In fact, I thought my whole family was special. As I got older, I came to realize that unique is perhaps a better description. Some people may even say dysfunctional but that’s just RUDE and I ignore those people because I am special enough to rise above such petty minds.
So below is a chapter (from my as yet unfinished memoir) about my lovely Mum – it would be great if you could let me know what you think.
Mum, the cat and the wardrobe
Once I arrived on a weekend visit to Mum to find her inconsolable. It turned out that Humbug (the family cat) was missing. “I am sure she will turn up,” I said in what I felt was a kind and reassuring tone of voice.
“She has been missing since yesterday. She’s never stayed out all night before. She wouldn’t put me through this worry on purpose,” Mum replied in a tone that was neither kind nor reassuring but implied that I would never be as thoughtful.
“Where have you looked for her,” I enquired, thinking I could formulate a search plan to distract Mum from her torment.
“I have been everywhere in Filey. I have made everyone along the street check their houses and open their sheds and garages. I have reported it to the police, put up flyers and handed them out.”
As she had already gone above and beyond the lengths most people would put into searching for a lost pet, there wasn’t much I could add so I simply said: “You’ll always have me, Mum.” This didn’t seem to bring Mum the comfort I was hoping for.
It was an awful weekend. Mum wouldn’t leave the house and wept for much of the time. She kept tormenting herself with all sorts of unlikely scenarios like a fox had taken her, some kids had tied her to the railway – which of course they hadn’t because she had checked, numerous times.
On Tuesday evening, after I had returned home, I got a call from Mum. I answered with some trepidation expecting weeping and wailing but I was greeted with euphoria. “We found her, we’ve found her,” said Mum through tears of joy.
“Oh Mum, that’s great news, where was she?”
“In the wardrobe. In the spare bedroom.”
I took a moment to digest this news. “Right, so you launched a full-scale missing cat inquiry, tried to involve the police, violated people’s personal space, littered Filey with flyers and she was in the wardrobe all along,” I said incredulously.
“Yes, on a shelf, under a jumper,” Mum said happily, the irony obviously lost on her.
The moral of the story: I am not sure there is one except to say if you find yourself in a similar situation, check in the wardrobe, including all the shelves and under all the jumpers before you launch a missing cat inquiry and ruin a visiting relative’s weekend.