Don't you remember?
‘Oh. It’s you nurse Jacobs. What a surprise to see you. Come in and have a cup of tea. Someone came and gave me a lovely slice. I think it’s a lemon slice.’
‘Good morning Mrs Mahoney. You remember I’m coming every day now to see how you are and it was your daughter, Mandy, who brought the slice. She came all the way from to see you. Do you remember Mandy coming?’
‘Who’s Mandy? I haven’t seen anyone for days. I get lonely. I’ve got a daughter and a son, but they don’t come near me now.’
‘Mrs Mahoney, your daughter, Mandy, was here yesterday and your son, Jeff, comes every afternoon. He cuts your lawn and his wife Maria makes sure you have food in your cupboards.’
‘No nurse Jacobs, Mandy hasn’t been for months and Jeff comes now and again and takes away the meat out of my fridge. I wish my husband, Noel, would come back. He’d keep them in order. I don’t know where he went. He went to the shops one day and I haven’t seen him since.’
‘Mrs Mahoney, Noel died two years ago. Don’t you remember that?’
‘He didn’t die. He was just being nasty. I asked him to make me a cup of tea and he walked out the door. He didn’t make me coffee and I haven’t seen him since! I don’t want to see him now if you know where he is.’
‘How’s the tea coming along Mrs Mahoney? Oh, have you forgotten? Have you had any breakfast this morning?’
‘No I don’t think so. I am hungry.’
‘What did you have for tea?’
‘I don’t know. I can’t remember.’
‘Mrs Mahoney I think you should move to the retirement village.’
‘Why on earth would I want to move to the retirement village? I like living in my own house. And Jeff comes to see me every night. Mandy was here yesterday. She brought me this lovely lemon slice. Would you like a piece? It’s lovely. She’s a good cook. I taught her well.’
‘Mrs Mahoney, there’s a new unit empty at the retirement village. Mandy and Jeff could help you pack up your things so that you could move in. You’d have lots of lovely neighbours. I reckon you’d know some people there. And when you’re hungry you could go down to the dining room and have a cuppa and some of their lovely cakes. They’re almost as good as Mandy’s.’
‘For heaven’s sake nurse Jacobs. Why would I want to move from here? This is my home and I’m staying until they carry me out in a box.’
‘Well Mrs Mahoney, you should think about it,’ Nurse Jacobs said.
Later in the day, Mrs Mahoney’s son, Jeff, came for his daily check on his mother. He parked his car in the driveway and came in the back way as usual.
‘Mum,’ he called. ‘Where are you?’
He walked around all the rooms, looking and calling, and getting a little worried. He often arrived to find his mother doing something unusual, and not knowing him. This time she wasn’t there but Jeff found a piece of paper on the table. Mum had been doing a bit more of her writing.
I need to write this before my mind is lost altogether. These days it seems to me as though it comes and goes at the most inopportune times. All of its own accord. I cannot control what I will remember or what I will forget.
The last place it occurred to him to look, Jeff opened the front door and nearly tripped over the tatty old suitcase; bulging with the things she’d packed.
‘Are you the taxi man?’
His mother was sitting on the door mat beside the suitcase, looking shrunken and forlorn.
‘What are you doing mum?’
‘I’m packed to go to the retirement village. Nurse Jacobs says there’s an empty house there and lots of people to meet. But the taxi man is taking forever. You can go if you’re not the taxi man.’