My dearest step dad sleeps and barely speaks.
My tired mother has shrunken further into the role of carer.
It is indeed a painful joy to visit them this week.
Only four months ago I was shaken by a decline, that now seems like a time of erudite conversation.
After that visit I wrote the following:
Edward and Mrs Jones
He gently asks his wife of 31 years
but do I have a bed for tonight?’
No longer sharing evening TV
picking at his food with bare fingers
he smiles at her or
un-certainly launches a friendly face in
‘Do you remember who I am?’ asks
that she, that other sitting
and eating there
all by herself in the distance.
‘Yes, I think I do’
and they return smiles within a
pause of concerned and bemused
Looking above his half rim specs
‘I think,’ he says
‘a long time ago
‘Oh good God’
silently with pierced heart my
mother tries to start, to start,
to restart them both.
Showing him a recent
anniversary card upon the table
there,’ she says
‘look at it then,
it says grandma and dad, step-dad,
father and mum,
31 years gone by,
see, that’s you and
‘Oh yes,’ he says
very nice indeed
And brushing the embossed lettering
‘hard with things on it.’
‘Yes my love it’s our anniversary
card,’ she says, ‘remember?’
And after staring into the far
cornicing for another split second of
for ever, he adds
placing the card to one side
‘but I must go now,
looking for a bed
‘Yes, ok Ed let’s go do that’
and Mrs Jones stands taller than she
has been all day.
‘Come along then my soldier,’
he hears that other person say
‘let’s go wash your face and brush
your teeth hmmm?
before I have to send you on your
‘Yes,’ he says, beaming within her
sing song voice
‘I used to put happy on my…
here,’ he says rubbing bristles and
‘yes put happy
happy, and go out, out’
Eds points to a place beyond joint
pain and yellowed teeth.
‘Are you talking about aftershave my
‘Yes, happy,’ and reach, reach
reaching to stroke her face
‘happy, on here.’
‘Yes, yes my dear,
I remember that too, but
your breath stinks, so
it’s off to the bathroom
and then beddy-byes for you