Maggie looked around at her room. So this was to be her home for the foreseeable future. She took a deep breath and eased her ageing body into the recliner chair.
There was little difference in these surroundings to the room her grandson was so anxious to show her a few months earlier. He had gone up to university and for the first time in his life, he had a room of his own. It was in the old halls of residence. “More like living in a wardrobe,” she had thought at the time, “with not enough room to swing a cat!”
Now it was her turn.
Leaning her walking stick against the arm of the unfamiliar chair, it fell to the floor with a clatter. A reminder that the surface was wooden, solid and well polished with years of dragging stiff joints from bed to chair and back again.
The décor was institutionally bright, certainly not to her taste. Who ever decided that all women of a certain age like fussy floral floating drapes and bed covers? Maggie wondered if it were possible to have them changed? Waking to multicoloured floral sprigs that bore no resemblance to any flower that had passed through Maggie’s hands in almost fifty years of creating bridal bouquets and floral arrangements, was actually nerve jagging and insulting.
In fact there was little space to add trinkets in order to make the place ‘her own’! One book on the bedside table left little space for a glass of water. The angle poise light on the small table beside the recliner chair meant that the small bouquet of flowers that Stephen brought was now standing on the floor under the tall narrow window.
It was a reluctant move, the hospital suggested it, though deep down Maggie knew that living alone was no longer a proposition. Recent falls meant her bones were resembling jigsaw pieces and her confidence receded with each new break.
The irony was that all through her early life she was known as Maggie Allbones. She had been christened Margarett Gretchen Allbones, and family records include the marriage of William Allbone and Margarett Alett at St. Margaret Moses, on February 25th 1587. Now after decades of moving house across the country, the circle had closed and here she was at Allbone House, in St. Margaret Moses. A home for retired gentlewomen. Goodness, it sounded like her ancestor Margarett Alett might still be wandering the hallways.
Stephen, her only son, was not happy. She could tell. He said nothing, trying to hide his disappointment as he emptied her small case and hung the few clothes in the dolls house wardrobe. This bore no resemblance to the comfort of his mother’s own bedroom at home with the wide bay window complete with window seat. A wall of slide robes filled with clothes ordered by season.
He wanted to take his beloved mother to his home, but the single story extension would not be complete for another couple of months. Meantime a house with teenagers, their friends and belongings never mind the noise that masquerades as music these days, blaring at all hours, would drive her mad. Allbone House was the only place with a room available right now. With heavy hearts they both agreed to give it a try.
A knock on the door brought a young lady with a tray. “Staff Nurse thought you might like your lunch here in your room today as you settle in, you can meet the other ladies at tea this afternoon”!
Lifting the cover from her plate, a brown, congealing mess killed her appetite and made the last of her spirits die.
“It won’t work,” Stephen said, with an air of tearful finality, he hated seeing his mother reduced to this.
Maggie tried to stand up in order to comfort her son. The last thing she wanted was to be a nuisance to her family. The tray unbalanced her and she started to fall….
This time there was no getting up.
No more brown, congealing undistinguishable messes on a plate and no need for a single story extension.
When I am dead I will not care
How future generations fare,
For I will be so unaware.
Though fields their slain has carpeted,
And seas be salt with tears they shed,
Not one I’ll waste, for I’ll be dead.
Though atom bombs in ashes lay
Their skyey cities of to-day,
With carrion lips I cannot pray.
Though ruin reigns and madness raves,
And cowering men creep back in caves,
I cannot help to dig their graves.
Though fools for knowledge delve too deep,
And wake dark demons from their sleep,
I will not have the eyes to weep.
I will not care, I cannot care,
For I will be no longer there
To share their sorrow and despair.
And nevermore my heart will bleed
When on my brain the blind-worms feed,
For I’ll be dead, dead, DEAD indeed.
And when I rot and cease to be,
It matters not a jot to me
What may be man’s dark destiny.
Ah! there you have the hell of it,
As in the face of Fate I spit
I know she doesn’t mind a bit.
A thousand millions clot this earth,
And billions more await their birth –
For what? . . . Ye gods, enjoy your mirth!
~ Robert William Service
Day four of sunshine, blue skies and fluffy clouds should be warming my heart, but it is still very cold comfort with a bitter icy tinge to the air that can catch my breath as I turn a corner. Matching white patches still linger in my garden and on the hills in the distance. I almost feel I should apologise to Padmini for my gloomy post on her chosen topic Finality. Hopefully some of our active members will have a more cheerful take on the subject, so run along and check them out: Delirious, Maxi, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox, Padmum, Ramana, Shackman speaks, The Old Fossil, Will Knott.