It was a theme she returned to often in subsequent years, latterly fighting my attempts to carry out such innocent domestic tasks as vacuuming, changing her bed-linen, or putting out the rubbish, on the same deluded grounds. Installation of a new cooker and washing machine (to replace broken down old models) was viewed as confirmation of my evil intent, and even delivery of internet groceries provoked hours of aggressively suspicious interrogation.
There were delusions and resentments directed at others too. Friends, she believed, had snubbed her in town, or were avoiding her on the phone; they’d said nasty things to her. She became convinced that a beloved uncle, long dead, had stolen precious things from her mother’s house, when he kindly cleared it out for her more than thirty years ago when her parents died. Numerous times, she called the next door neighbours, adamant that the gardener - with whom she had always been on cordial terms - was “hiding in the house”; they would search it from top to bottom to humour her, and even then she would not be satisfied. “Well, of course, he’s gone now!”, she would say. (The most extreme example of this is detailed in my post, The Crisis We All Dread.)
And she became extremely possessive of me. She was always inclined to be clingy (we were both only children, and she’d had a very close relationship with her own mother); but as time went on, she couldn’t accept any notion of my developing relationships or emotional bonds with others. Whenever I was with her, I couldn’t speak to friends on the phone or even check emails openly, because she’d demand to know who I was talking to, on the assumption that I was saying bad things about her. It was impossible to reason with her about any of this.
Last week, the Independent published the heart-breaking story of a man with vascular dementia (also my mum’s dominant strain), who killed his wife of more than fifty years, while under the delusion that she was cheating on him:
|Mum & me, Beaumaris Castle, 1976
|Back in Beaumaris for mum's 80th, 2006