Today she was 95!  She knew there was something special.  The nurses put up a banner and two balloons in her room, they had even baked a cake with a single candle on it, sang happy birthday, but they had lost her shoes and she had lost all recollection.  She couldn’t understand why had they dolled her up, combed her hair, dressed her in her smartest blue dress, even shaved the whiskers from her chin?  What was going on? 

She was worried about where she was going and so was her friend Betty.  ‘You will bring her back won’t you?’   I promised to get her back by supper.  

All the way to Chatsworth, she kept up a running commentary. ‘Look at those trees.  What do you call them; the ones with the white blossom.  Can you smell them?  It looks like a reservoir up there?  I used to walk along here.  That’s a lovely house.  I remember that tree.  I went everywhere by myself.  I’ve been in that pub. What do you call this town?  Ah, yes, Hathersage.’   She was like a little girl on an outing.  ‘Oh I won’t want to go back home. …..   I can’t remember where I live.’     

I took her to the farm shop and she plodded along after me, carrying the empty bag.  She likes being with people.  I had to talk loudly to her and repeat myself.  It was like being on stage, but the audience looked away. 

At my cottage, she enjoyed the lemon tea and the date and walnut cake.  She opened her cards.  Simon had made her a card with a rather beautiful poppy on it; mine was a photo of bluebells.  But when the conversation lapsed, she looked around in panic and in a voice, querulous and pitched high, declared,  ‘ I am unsettled; I don’t know where I am’.  I explained this was my house.  ‘But where do I live?  Can’t I stay with you?

When we returned the others were having tea, the same blank expressions, looking but not seeing, grabbing their food with mechanical shovels – got to keep the body alive even though ……  I parked her at a table, went to put her coat back in her room, propped her cards up, noticed that Doreen had left a present for her – some tiny white flowers in a pot and looked in Pamela’s room for the pictures of the family that had gone missing, but when I went in to say goodbye, she’d forgotten I’d ever come.

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