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  • My mum has been confused for a year or two, but has coped.

    But she fell and broke her hip at Christmas.

    The ambulance men took her to hospital. It became obvious that she was suffering badly from dementia, and it only required the effects of the fall, and hospitalisation, to reveal the extent of her confusion. She had coped only because of the familiarity of 'home'.

    Social Work assessment was ordered, and the decision made that she would not be allowed to return home.


    She was 83 years old, a good age to have reached on your own.

    It fell to me to close her flat, remove some of her belongings that would fit in the small room in her sheltered placement - her new 'home', and to dispose of the remaining items. Mum in her confusion refused to sign anything, to stop her rent, her phone, her electricity and told me, angrily, to sort it out myself.

    That was not easy.

    I contacted a local charity about her furniture and other belongings. Two men appeared in a small van one day.

    One was brawny, scarred, shaven-head, ex-military and scarily tough. The other was somewhat odd.

    They started to remove the furniture and boxes of a lifetime.

    The conversation with them went sporadically, in between their removal and delivery of mum's furniture, and return for more.

    Army man said he had moved to the highlands with his partner for a 'new start', driving around in a small van until they found a place that felt right. He had fetched up in rural Lochaber (in a remote part, but very 'right' in my opinion) and was living in a tent, then a caravan, through two of the coldest winters on record. "The people have been so friendly" he said. "I'm doing this work as a volunteer, I like 'community' and this is my contribution." he added.

    They took the oak display cabinet.
    Then they came back for more.

    "We gave the display cabinet to a Polish immigrant family who have no furniture" he told me on his return "They could not believe how lovely it is, they were so so happy. The woman was quite emotional!"

    They took the large orthopaedic bed next.
    They came back for more.

    "A Latvian immigrant family got the bed. A husband and wife and two children. The two parents were crying when they saw it, they were so happy. They have no furniture. They said to say thank you to your mum."

    The carpets went next, and the large flat screen television.

    The Army man told me his workmate has a learning difficulty and this volunteer job is therapeutic for him, but he's very fragile and gets depression. "I have to look after him." he said.

    "The people who got your mum's carpets have no furniture and no carpets. They were crying when we carried in your mum's stuff. They said to say thank you."

    "And the tv went to a large family who have no television. The children were so happy they were jumping up and down so much I felt like Father Christmas!"

    "What was your mother like? People are asking me to tell them where this lovely stuff has come from." he asked me.

    I told him. It took a while. He cried too.

    They took a microwave, a cooker and a fridge next.
    They came back for the rest.

    "The people who got the cooker were delighted. They have no furniture, but now they have a cooker and are really really happy!" he told me.

    When they had cleared everything there was nothing left, except a view of the sea and a seashell echo of memories. And nothing else.

    Well nothing except the calendar, stuck on January, the month mum fell, and was removed, and made so many people cry with happiness.

    The sadness of it all is that she does not know this.
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