After my stepfather passed away, my mother's Bi Polar re-surfaced and she was hospitalised. I'm blogging as I process what happened.
I arrive in the hospital and she is lying on the couch in the communal room. It is darkened with the lights turned out and another patient lies on the coach next to her, fast asleep. “You came at a good time,” she says, a bright smile on her face as she holds out her hands so I can help her stand up. “I just had a nap.”
She has red lipstick on her face and mascara on her lashes. “Look, I did my make up.”
“Yes, you did. You look beautiful.”
We go to her new room and I take out her washing and stack it in the wardrobe. She has been moved out of the high dependancy ward where she had to share a bathroom with the other patients, a fact that she found distressing as clarity returned. Her toiletries were under lock and key and she could only receive them upon request from the nurses. The wardrobe was locked and she could only access her clothes when they unlocked them.
When she showed me her new room her face was wreathed with smiles. “Look, my own bathroom. And my make up is there.” All her toiletries are splayed on the vanity. “And my clothes.” She opens the wardrobe, where her clothes are neatly stacked.
“And look at this, my flowers and card and photo.” She now has a beside table where she has gathered her prized possessions. A woman she knows came to visit and brought her beautiful roses from her garden, their perfume filling the room, a plastic bottle serving as a vase. I brought a Polaroid photo of my husband, daughter and I for her to look at, and she has a birthday card for her 65th birthday from my sister.
After I organise her clothes we go to the hospital cafe for a coffee. I get us coffees and we sit and talk. The mania of her Bi Polar has broken and she is able to listen, to take turns, to reflect on and engage in a conversation.
She talks about my stepfather’s passing and cries. We talk about whether the best thing is for her to return to the house that they shared together.
“I’m worried about some the safety issues,” I tell her. “Even if we take the unflustered walls and unfinished floors out of the equation, there is no front step, instead bricks are stacked side by side. I nearly rolled my ankle the other day. The back stairs have no rails, and the shower is a bath/shower that you already struggle in and out of with your knee. Now that he’s not there to help you I’m worried.”
We talk about whether she should sell the house and move. Start afresh, or whether having the renovations that my stepfather began 10 years finally finished and then living in the house is better.
“At the end of the day, you need to make the decision, Mum.”
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Amra Pajalić is an award-winning author, an editor and teacher who draws on her Bosnian cultural heritage to write own voices stories for young people, who like her, are searching to mediate their identity and take pride in their diverse culture. She writes memoir, young adult and romance under the pen name Mae Archer.
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