Things were so different on this visit. Mum lives for her television programmes but the television remained switched off all day. She was favouring water over her normal coffees by the dozen. She did not want to stroke the dog or play with the children. What should have been my daughter's birthday party at grandmas had turned into a lacklustre day with an oppressive atmosphere that I think all the adults felt. Fortunately, the children's Easter activities distracted them effectively I think but who knows?
But there were no balloons or party poppers and no cake.
Mum's house is called Pancake Land by my children as they say she makes the best pancakes in the world. Dad made my daughter one but it did not feel the same and the boys said no and had other things.
Mum did seem to cheer a little whilst talking to me and starting directing operations in her usual way a little bit. This led to a lovely scene where my daughter and Dad planted sweet pea seeds in the garden. "I'll be able to see those when they flower" said Mum. Gut-wrenching moment as I feel in my heart that she will not do so. She loves sweet peas and it is something we share. Or did!
Mum eventually went to lie down in her bedroom and this gave me an opportunity to talk to my brother and Dad. My brother said he was "struggling" and Dad after a leading question from me admitted that the situation is "hard". I am very much the baby of the family and it felt weird trying to offer support to these men in my life. I sent my Other Half out for a walk - not fair on him to keep going from room to room hiding from difficult and private conversations. He returned saying that town was "dead" after walking up to the house saying I must not say that word, I must not say that word. Hyper-awareness now to those terms even when the boys are playing with their toy swords and say the D word.
My other brother telephoned from France. He spoke to everyone except Mum who was sleeping. I think everyone told them in their own words that things are bad and we don't expect Mum to last long. She is covered in lumps over her body, one of which she made me feel I think to make it more real to me. She is not sleeping well but tells Dad she is - those reassuring lies that are part of every good marriage. I speak to my brother's partner too on the telephone who has gone through this journey with his parents. He catches me in the headlights, refusing to let me escape from confronting my emotion. I end the conversation and want to get away, to go home, to pretend all is well.
I see Mum on my own upstairs and find myself in one of those big life scenes. I will blog about this later, too much for me now.
As we leave the house, I put on my happy face and we all blow mad kisses and wave like we have had the best day ever.
When we arrive home, my Other Half tells me there were balloons on the side at Mum's house but without Mum, nobody thought to blow them up. But she had thought to get them despite everything. Heart-break