She opened the door, and went into the room; a bed, a table and chair, a TV….and in front of the window, but with its back to it, a wing chair, in which the old lady was sitting. But not that old really…..
As she came into the room, and sat tentatively at the table, the old woman said
"Please can you ask my daughter to come and see me? She never comes to see me, My only daughter, and she never comes to see me."
"Hello Mum. It's me." Met with a slightly puzzled then blank stare … then politely.
"It's very kind of you to visit me dear, but I just want to see my daughter. Can you find her, and ask her to come and see me?"
It was the same every week when she came to the home; each time hoping against hope that her mother would know her, that there'd be even a glimmer of recognition. But each time, she found this stranger in her mother's body and clothes.
"But Mum, it's me! I'm here. Look, can't you see it's me, Kelly. your daughter, Mum!"
And she sat there until eventually the not really so old woman would close her blank eyes. Then once again she would wearily open the door to leave, yet again without a miracle; and from the chair with its back to the window and its isolating wings,
"Please will you ask my daughter to come and see me? Tell her I'm here. I can't, because I don't know where I am……………"
As she walked, silently crying, down the corridor from her mother's room at the far end, passing each door she half imagined what it might be like if that's what our lives were all about - if we started life in our first "life Room"…babyhood, infancy, kimdergarten, school, and so on .Then every few years or so, on to our next "Life Room"…….maybe teenage, high school, university: then the next room, and the next, and the next…….
And in each room, our experiences, our memories, our lives. being created. What if that's what time travel is really - going up and down our corridors, popping in and out of the rooms to re-connect with who we were in each one/ Because that's what memory is all about, isn't it?
As she stopped to go through the lobby to leave, she looked back down the corridor, at the long line of doors. ……….and suddenly thought
"What if Mum has found herself in a room she doesn't want to be in? What if she's actually chosen to go back along her ‘Corridor of Time' to a place and to people where she was happy? Well then maybe the best way to help her would be by NOT insisting, in her 'now' room for instance, that I'm the person from one of her happy rooms? Perhaps if, when I'm with her in her 'now' room I'm just her personal "tour guide"!………both of us in the now……. but then I start taking her back to her happy rooms, talking of what happened then, who was with her, only being her daughter Kelly when we're in the right room and so on?
What if I could somehow get her to rekindle, re-live her old memories by being in the right ‘time room' with her…….helping her to recreate, with all her senses, each room - could I then help her to bring these ‘visits' back to the now? If she can re-live the memories often enough, perhaps that will recreate them………..?
The following Sunday she walked down to the far end of the corridor with a plastic bag. She opened the door, and went into the room; a bed, a table and chair, a TV….and in front of the window, but with its back to it, a wing chair, in which the old lady was sitting. But not that old really…..
This time she sat on the edge of the bed, and from the plastic bag, she took out a bright blue, silky dress, and spread it over the part of the bed nearest to the wing chair. The old lady's eyes moved. Then she brought from the bag a bottle of what had been her mother's favourite perfume, and gently sprayed some onto the dress. And on the bed, next to the blue dress, she placed some photographs of her mother in the dress, with her at a wedding; and quietly she began to sing a Frank Sinatra song from around that time, that her Mum had loved.
And she waited……….
"Hello Kelly. Thanks for coming, darling".
© 2014 Dee Shipman
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