Marianne Talbot with her mother
I have just spent nine wonderful days in the South of France! I am tanned, relaxed and at least 5lbs heavier despite swimming 100 lengths of the (very small) pool every day.
I can’t tell you how glad I am I went. I was so afraid mum was going to die that I very nearly cancelled. But when – in trepidation - I rang from the train to see what the situation was, Judy (my sister) put me onto her. She said in her old strong cheerful voice: ‘Hello Lou, have you had a nice holiday?’
She hasn’t called me ‘Lou’ for ages (it’s short for ‘Louise’, my middle name, and was my parents’ pet name for me). These days, because she can’t remember my name, mum doesn’t call me anything much: to have her call me ‘Lou’ was FANTASTIC!!
I’m very glad I went for nine days. For the first two or three days I was on tenterhooks, expecting to have to hurtle back any minute. But the expected phone call didn’t come. And the sun was so hot, the pool so clear and inviting, the food so good and the company so stimulating, that slowly I stopped worrying. For about five days I relaxed completely.
I didn’t even think about mum until I decided I had to make the phone call from the train. The call made me feel I’d been given a ‘get out of jail free’ card: not only a holiday but a cheerful mum!
Judy says she has no idea why mum’s mood improved so radically. It is clear that she devoted a lot of time to mum’s well-being, reading to her, singing with her etc, so it could be that. I don’t often have time to give mum the attention she craves.
Nor, to be honest, have I the patience: even if I didn’t have to work I doubt I could manage more than an hour of focused attention at a time.
It is difficult to admit it but I found myself feeling a resentful that mum’s mood had improved so much when I was away. It makes me feel I was responsible for her being so depressed and nasty.
But maybe I was. I was depressed and nasty myself before I went away. Had I not gone I don’t like to think what state I’d be in now. I also think it hugely unlikely that mum’s mood would have improved so much (if at all).
But now I am back.
My fear is that I am not going to be able to sustain this sense of relaxation for long and that soon we’ll be back where we started.