It's lovely and quiet just now. The only sounds I can hear beyond the click of the laptop keys and the tiny thrum of its fan, is the gentle hiss from flames of the coal-effect gas fire and the metronomic tic tic tic of the second hand of the electric mantle clock as it jogs along neatly dividing up the minutes. Of course, I'd much rather these two last sounds were the hiss and crackle of a log fire in a large open grate, and the steady sonorous tock of a long-cased clock in a slightly echoey Victorian hallway (my fantasy house), but for a 1950s New Town terrace this house we're in does more than OK for now.
A little while ago The Dog was adding some contented sound effects of his own as he crunched and ground up the last piece of some home-made naan bread The Husband baked on Friday evening. We leave the leftovers to dry out to the texture of a baby's rusk and break off a chunk each day, as he loves it so, hiding it carefully under pillows or cushions or rugs to go back to later if he's not all that peckish at the time. Just now he lay in front of the hissing fake coals and ate today's piece all in one go, then got up and padded into the dining room to have a drink of water. The wet rhythmic lapping of The Dog drinking water or having his last-thing-at-night saucer of milk is another sound I love. It means The Dog is well, and all's right in the world.
A couple of hours ago things weren't quite so peaceful. I had a call at 2.30pm from Our Ma's carer who'd arrived for her afternoon visit to find Our Ma sprawled on the sitting room floor. As it's against regulations to lift or move a fallen client alone she'd called for an ambulance and was now ringing to let the family know. I could hear the reassuring level tones of her slow Zimbabwean-accented English, so didn't panic, especially as in the background I could hear Our Ma's not at ALL querulous protestations that "I don't WANT an ambulance, I am perfectly all RIGHT, I can manage on my own!" Which was not all true, not one iota, as she could have been on the floor quite some time, but at least suggested she wasn't concussed nor had cracked ribs as she was in good full voice.
I waited to hear an update.
I waited to hear an update.
The ambulance came and went, but Our Ma remained at home, her redoubtable self, utterly unshiftable, and as it happens as right as rain, just as she had claimed, once she was off the floor and in her chair. She was checked over found to be ostensibly fine, lifted expertly into her armchair and refused a trip to the hospital for a closer check-up, the carer reported. The exact same thing happened on the run up to Christmas when she must have come down heavily on her side as she had a splendid black eye for a couple of weeks, and bruised ribs. This afternoon has just been another of those tragi-comic interludes we are now well used to with Our Ma, little incidents and events that have the potential to be more serious but never quite are. Of course we realise that they are just little training modules for The Big One, when she will either take a calamitous tumble, or have a medical emergency, from which there will be no hope of recovery, recuperation and renewal.
She's 94 in October. She is firmly ensconced in her favourite chair in God's Waiting Room. with plenty of biscuits and milky coffee, meals brought to her on a tray, and a steady supply of books which she "reads" and crosswords that she "completes" (with her vascular dementia I have to employ ironical quotation marks as anyone who knows the condition will understand) whilst her family prepares itself for the eventual crisis that will be the last.
Meanwhile, The Husband has just rung her from his workplace and she's asked for some nice sweets, something chewy and minty. As she has precisely one whole tooth and stump of one tooth (and will not countenance dentures) to enjoy such toffees must take some doing. These toffees, to me, are a symbol, a pars pro toto, the small section that can denote the whole of the bigger picture. It isn't as melodramatic or urgent as holding on to life by the skin of her teeth, they way she is hanging on, but she sure as hell has it clasped firmly between her recalcitrant gums.