We're spending a little time in a nursing home - my children & I - where we will chat, play and listen to stories about life now & days gone.... and hopefully draw some too.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Loving Lady S

I love lady S.

But was nervous on my first visit.  Lady S - her toothless cry from crookeredd face though later when I saw her with my little two year old - little A - I realised that her wail was merely a call to love and her mad waving hands were just clutching to cuddle - my child or anything else soft and sweet within arms length. I would watch as Lady S cooed over my tot for hours and cried when we left. The rest of the time she would spend with a baby doll tucked up safe into the warmth of her long afternoon slumbers. Her needs seemed so simple - to be loved and to give love.
She died yesterday. I feel touched to have known her for a little moment in a strange part of her life - at the very end.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Running nose

I going to do something different today. I am of course far less experienced in activities or reminiscing than anyone in this nursing home and they have difficulty so what did I expect really? I spoke with the activities lady A and we thought one on ones would be better – just talking, reminiscing if possible or perhaps reading aloud - getting to the people that are most isolated for one reason or other.

I go and wash my hands as I have a bit of a cold so should be careful.

In the second floor sitting room I sit next to happily stationary Lady M. I have been here before for reading out load and it seems like something good to do. I open up my assault of the space then stop, I should always apologise for my reading voice first, Lady M, undaunted graciously smiles, so I confidently continue with 'what happened today in 1940'. Vivienne Leigh won an academy award for Gone with the Wind, Lady M smiles on. 'Washing powder was one of the most important aids to a woman's day' and on and on she smiles . Every so often I lean and ask her something and she looks to the top corner of her eyes and then shrugs but smiles on and on and on.
Gentleman H across the room, tugs with his solitary active hand at the long cord of his bag, the endless tube extends out into the room and his tummy follows, still suckling on route.

I call one of the nurses and she rushes in to stop him.

Shall I come over and read to you? Gentleman H eagerly waves me over. I sit down opposite him and he grabs my hand – such a tight grip you have.

The manager comes in to have her lunch in the corner.

I open my lungs for the room to hear and the manager leaves. I smile to myself and look at Gentleman H, he smiles too. He puts his hand out again. Do you want me to stop – I try and read his eyes, is he unhappy with my guttural sounds? He grips my hand tight then puts his finger to his mouth. Oh I smile.

Activities Lady A comes into the room and gestures for me to come chat. I pick up all my things and say to Gentleman H that I'll be back.

Activities Lady A tells me that he has MRSA and to be careful as he likes to play with his bag... Oh I say looking down a my hands having just shoved my fingers in my eyes, my clothes and as she talks I take my away from my snotty nose....

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

And we went there...

Ladies sit round a table with drawing pads of fun
But then they only watch as children want to run

Knuckles swollen memory gone most wheelchair bound
But children rushing by so fast will barely hit the ground

Action grows but ladies no, they strain to hear the strife
Of little tiny treats to be here with the other end
of life

Can't they sit and stay awhile in a place just made for them
Not scared or bored one smiling girl does just this for ten

A sweet old lady stuck in words is smiling naughty cute
Repeating girly just take my hand but girly sits there mute

A mummy sits to chat with age as baby sits and coos
Elderly Ladies they sit and smile watching life anew

A grand old Lady arthritic pen for writing the lords prayer,
Another with a different pen to say it's all not fair.

When asked why she says not sure she doesn’t have a clue
Don't I realise she can't remember what she is or who

She is bruised all shiny black, yellow, pink and red
Did she fall upon the floor, the roof or even on the bed?

The children sit eventually they paint and draw tremendously
Until the time of course you see they have to go and watch tv.

In the end we altogether sit eating yummy sweets,
Most of Ladies enjoy this scene though some of them asleep

Children jumping greedy paws steal biscuits 1 2 3
And sing, for Ladies like this best, our tiny tuneless treats.

Thursday, 26 January 2012


Today I am going to try some reminiscence with the residents of the north London nursing home.

I am armed with photos and music. Harringay had many spectacular Theatres last century so hopefully these images will spike up memories. Music is a problem though – I can only find a Karaoke CD of the 50's 60's 70's but maybe this will trigger something...

Six separated people in the sitting room and I feel silly as the tiny player starts with Elton John... do they know who he is? No says all the shaking heads...

Here are pictures of Harringgay from when you were young, I suggest. I show everyone the photos of grand old buildings from a forgotten world before a war. Do you remember the Ritz, the Premiere Electric or the Grand Coliseum? Monosyllabic heads says no all.

A determined lady stomps through our silence in a flash of tiding up. I have seen her before walking the halls on her way places, gripping a pile of importance with a sense of purpose. Is she the new manager? She comes to a standstill at the mirror with other people's keepsakes grasped tight to chest and in tears - unable to enter the mirror. She is not the manager.

I tear myself back to Lady S who I am sitting opposite. Do you have children? I don't know she smiles.

Elvis pipes out from our tiny player and legs start to jig. Oh you like Elvis? Yeeees says Lady S in her sing-song Bombay accent. Do you all like Elvis? I turn to Lady B, oh yes, she says. Great then that's great. Would you like to watch some Elvis films? Yes, again. Monosyllabic heads says yes all.

On the way back to the activities cupboard I pass Gentleman A's room. He has decorated it from floor to ceiling in coloured pencil drawings of Teddy Boys... well a single childish version of a Teddy boy in profile of various sizes and colours - which I am told is much better then the Swastikas that used to accompany them... He sits up as I pop in, quiff quite not what it used to be. Would he like to watch Elvis movies? Yessss, he says, one eye wide with excitement and eager lopsided smile.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

And the Ladies Came

Today we have organised for a local(ish) care home to come to little A's nursery. This hopefully is the start of a long relationship between the two groups.

I am excited – it seemed impossible but in the end all I had to do was ask!

It's 10:40 a red taxi bus stops outside in the rain. I run out shivering in my t-shirt, and beckon them out of their cosy bus. Four ladies, a carer and an activities lady get out into unwelcoming weather. One lady sensibly pulls a jacket up over head and greets me - a warm smile folded into a kind face under a triangle of tweed.

Only four - what a shame I wanted a whole crowd to match our brew. But once inside I see more would overwhelm, their presence is significant, immense amongst our miniatures.

We begin with morning tea. The Ladies sit at a larger table with the children at smaller one in front and mummies behind. The children are very excited to have visitors and be eating in the hall for a change. We start with a song – the Ladies are overjoyed at all these tiny tuneless squeaks.

One of the visitors, Lady G, looks disturbed and pipes up that she can smell smoke, I explain that there are boats outside with wood burning stoves – we can go and look one time if she likes, Lady G shakes her head - no it's too cold. Yes but another day I say – when you come again.

Morning tea is served up to most with only a few little scamps running naughtily around and hiding – namely little A...

After tea five smiling faces are kept for an activity with the Ladies and the rest rush outside to play; the blistery winter that can't hold them back.

Someone asks how I'm to go about the activity but details aren't my strong point. Mummy E suggests I'm going to throw all the ingredients up into the air and they will come down fairy cakes, this makes my form of chaos sound almost magical(?) but omits the hysteria that is true me.

We give five small children five small bowls to cream sugar and butter together with the ladies help. And very good creaming it is too-with only one landing on the floor which is good considering the odds. After much faff about small bowls verses one big bowl - me with the mixture into one thing then five others and back into one again - we give the children eggs each to break into one big bowl which they do well with nice clean breaks. We then suggest Lady E has the last egg to break - she is 100 in march, wheel chair bound and has terrible arthritis so declines but via an encouraging frenzy just does it, we are ecstatic and with that I grab the bowl and promptly through all the egg shells into a perfect mixture...
Lovely little C and little L go about giving all the happy visitors hugs.

Lady G has been sitting in the corner for about half an hour and I am sad that she has left the group. Little C goes over to give her a hug and she envelops him up with a smile – she is fine, perhaps she just needs a break from the mayhem... Activities Lady L says Lady G wants to go out but the bus won't be coming for awhile yet, Lady G looks to me and says something similar, her carer goes to her aid as I smile and rush smiling hysterics back into the kitchen. It's only later that I realise that she was wanting to go out to the boats, I had completely forgotten the conversation...

At 12:30 a patient bus driver waits to take the Ladies back to their care home as stories are read to children amid the smell of baking fairy cakes. The children and our elderly visitors are all smiling - the mummies were so very obliging and helpful - so yes, I think this could happen again.

Thursday, 19 January 2012