My mother had her operation today, to mend her broken shoulder.
I didn't go with her. It's hard to explain why not. Partly it was because I was booked to do a roleplay, and it's a demanding one, and only a few of us do it, and I was already replacing someone who couldn't do it, and I knew it would cause real problems if I said I couldn't do it.
But that was only part of the reason.
The Communist, who died last December, was an amazingly patient patient. Good-humoured, resilient, remarkably uncomplaining. "When I get old, put me in a home," he used to say. "I won't mind."
Of course, I had no intention of doing any such thing, but when it came to it, I had to. Once he'd had a leg amputated, there was no way I could cope with him at home.
He did mind, of course - - but sometimes a lot less than he should have done when he was badly treated. But, in general, like his mother before him - she was in a home for the blind for several years - he was appreciative and uncomplaining and the staff all liked him.
My mother's not like that, generally. She hates hospitals and thinks in the abstract that they are all out to do her down in some crucial but unspecified way. She's like that with anything remotely medical, such as her hearing aids. She talks as though she's convinced they were designed with the sole intention of annoying her.
When she broke the shoulder and was taken to hospital in Swansea, three weeks ago, her attitude to both the place and the staff made it one of the very worst days of my life. She was in deep shock of course - - but my cries of "Can someone help me please, my mother's in shock and I can't deal with it" went mostly entirely unheeded.
She screamed, shouted, swore and tried to flee. I had to keep chasing after her and bringing her back. Ironically, one of the things that was upsetting her was that she felt that her fall had ruined my weekend away, and she thought that things would be improved by her discharging herself and leaving - - which, eventually, she did. I couldn't stop her and neither could the staff.
I absolutely dreaded this happening again. I thought that, with me there, it was actually more likely to, whereas she might keep more self-control if I wasn't. Though part of my reasoning for this, I suppose, was that I just couldn't bear the idea of another few hours like the ones in Swansea. It's not my mother's fault, of course - she's eighty-five, she's had a stroke, she's hardly ever been in hospital and the fluorescent lights give her migraine. But to see my fiercely independent, fighting-fit mother in that state - I couldn't bear it. And I couldn't deal with it.
Apparently before the operation today she did try to escape - she had quite a long wait and at one point decided she could stand it no more and was going to leave. The staff in Leeds seemed much better than the ones in Swansea. They took her out in the fresh air until she felt better and then managed to persuade her to stay.
When Stephen and I arrived this evening she was still asleep but quickly woke up when I called to her.
She seems absolutely fine now. She looks incredibly well and was also incredibly cheerful. She was in some pain from the shoulder, but was beginning to be hungry - she hadn't had anything to eat today of course. She had a few sips of water and perked up even more.
A nurse came and took her blood pressure. A hundred and eighteen over sixty-five, like someone in their thirties.
She was delighted to see us, of course. My brother's coming tomorrow, from Amsterdam, and she'll be even more delighted to see him. I passed on love and best wishes to her from lots of people who'd asked me to send it, and she was very pleased.
So all was well. I do hope that she will make a complete recovery because if she doesn't she won't be able to bear it.
On the way home we stopped for a McDonalds, because I wanted comfort food with lots of fat in it.
And half-way through eating it I kind of forgot where I was for a moment, and just remembered that my mother had had an operation. And then, as a big shock, I remembered something. I hadn't rung the Communist to tell him it had gone well.
And then I remembered, and started to cry, in the middle of McDonalds, feeling like an idiot. Funny how your mind can play tricks on you.