The Writing on the Wall


Two young men are slowly dismantling the bathroom in my mother’s house. I had assumed I would chivvy her round to our house for the duration but no, she sleeps on undisturbed by the banging and to-ing and fro-ing. The plumbers are undeniably quiet, no radio blaring, no effing and blinding to speak of. Perhaps I expected Del and Rodney Trotter. This is Wales and the plumbers are softly spoken Welshmen still waiting for the delivery of the new stuff with the old filling the garden. Although ‘Bloody hell’ in Welsh is still ‘Bloody hell’, It does sound better.
The spell in hospital has left its mark on my mother and ‘staying on’ is paramount. Still living on her own in her nineties after a lifetimes’ independence (a single parent, well before that term was current) each infringement is felt keenly.
A walk-in shower is another capitulation. Taking out the bath, moving to a bungalow and wearing false teeth seem to be rungs on the stairway to heaven. Slowly and dimly we grasp this, even though we have our feet squarely on that ladder
I think of her sometimes as ‘the boxer’, for her fondness of watching TV, and for boxes of chocolates but mostly for her fighting spirit. Thankfully, she still has her marbles. The sight of her as we waited for the medic and the ambulance those weeks ago, spellbound, watching a Marcel Pagnol film, Le Chateau de Ma Mere , in French, with the broadest of (toothless) smiles, is still imprinted on my mind’s eye.


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