“Hi Mum,” I say.
I lean over, kiss her forehead and pull up a chair. She’s in a dark-blue nightie and is lying on her side, legs drawn up beneath her like a dying bird, arms held out in front of her, bent at the elbows across her scrawny chest.
She pulls at a thread hanging from the sleeve. “Ny-ny-ny-ny-sh-sh-sh-sh-ny-ny-ny.”
At the same time, she is grinding her teeth, a sound as loud and harsh as a stick being dragged along a picket fence. In the background, a CD of meditation classics pipes from the small stereo on a side table.
I try her name, more brightly, but feel helpless. “Susie,” I call. I stand over her again, forcing myself into her line of vision.
“Yes,” she says flatly, and I’m taken aback by the sudden acknowledgment. For a moment, it seems she’s recognised her own name.
But I cannot be sure, and her grey eyes don’t meet mine, or register my presence. “Ny-ny-ny-ny-ny,” she resumes. Her head lolls back and forth.
Suddenly, a deep exhaustion seems to fall upon her. She raises a hand to her brow, sticks her thumb in her mouth, falls silent, and her bowels open.
Sue is seventy-two.… Read more..