“The look I am aiming for,” I tell the Youngest of the Darling Daughters as I emerge from a steamy bathroom where I have enjoyed an invigorating shower, “is Capable But Realistic.” Perhaps wisely,
my daughter doesn’t respond. I am, after all, wearing my polar bear dressing gown and sensible slippers while my hair is standing on end, having been subjected to a rigorous shampoo. “I’ll go and get dressed then,” I say, scuttling,
crab-like, towards the bedroom...
I decide on a clean pair of trousers and a cheerful red jumper, with a pretty scarf knotted around my neck before surveying myself
in the mirror. I am hoping that I can be categorised as “Very Well Groomed.” I know I can’t aspire to “Extremely Well Groomed” as this would involve me in the application of make-up which, apart from the odd squirt of perfume,
is not part of my daily routine. Except on special occasions when the Middle of the Darling Daughters takes me in hand and becomes, for the one day at least, my personal make-up artist.
The reason for all this attention to detail is that I am expecting an early morning visit from two physiotherapists whose task is to determine (I) whether Mr B is safe to return to his home environment; and (ii) whether, with appropriate
support, I am perfectly able to look after him. Hence the need to appear capable but also well-groomed. Unkempt would be a Seriously Bad Look, which is why I have washed my hair and chosen my clothes so carefully. I know these things matter; should I appear
unable to look after myself properly, why would anyone agree to entrust a Precious Person to my care?
The Youngest of the Darling Daughters empties the dish-washer
and gives the kitchen a quick once-over. I gather up all the newspapers from the last few days (I never get time to read them when my daughter is here - we have far too much fun) and bundle up lots of letters, papers, leaflets, knitting patterns and the like
which are littering the place, tucking them all out of sight behind the settee. I must remember not to leave them there for ever, I tell myself. Hopefully.
decide to leave our completed jigsaw puzzle out on the table as evidence (if needed) of my mental sharpness. It was a particularly tricky puzzle - I should have anticipated the difficulty level from its title “A Snowy Scene”. Lots of snow on the
ground, snow-topped buildings and a sky heavy with the menace of future snow-falls. We did very well to finish it between us last night. All in all, we congratulate ourselves, the home environment looks perfectly presentable.
It’s not until our visitors arrive that I realise they may wonder why it is still Christmas in our house, more than a month since the Big Day. I couldn’t quite work out whether the surprised
looks on their faces were down to shock, delight or disbelief. It must have felt like Groundhog Day - strings of greetings cards stretched across the walls, the Christmas tree in one corner, still adorned with fairy lights and with the cardboard reindeer (designed
and created by my eldest grandson fourteen years ago) crazily askew on the top branch. The bunting made by the Rascally Trio remains in full view, my four Christmas characters (Santa, Penguin, Snowman and Snowy Santa) have pride of place on the windowsill,
surrounding a poinsettia which is clinging on to its remaining crimson bracts for dear life. Even “Nanni and Grandad’s Advent Box 2020” has stayed put in the living room though now it is being used as a kind of make-shift book shelf for all
my reading matter (more proof of my mental abilities?)
I explain that when Mr B returns home, I have promised him that we will celebrate the Christmas he
missed because he was lying, proper poorly, in his hospital bed. I even have the large piece of beef (corner cut topside, his favourite) in the freezer as it was far too big for one person’s Christmas dinner. I am pleased to report that my visitors accepted
my explanation completely; it was lucky, perhaps, that they didn’t notice the Giant Penguin who, since Mr B was taken away from me, has been sitting in the wheelchair up at the dining room table to keep me company...
Fortunately all my efforts to appear Capable but Realistic appear to have paid off. The physiotherapists are going to recommend that Mr B comes home just as soon as we have the required level of care
in place. It’s one more step along the way to normality, I told him when I telephoned to give him the good news.
I must have proved to them that I am clearly
well-groomed, capable and efficient, if a little eccentric. They have determined that Mr B will be safe in my hands, that he needs to be home as much as I need him here. I’m glad that they saw what I have always known to be true -
All you need is love...