Mum’s by the glass door when I arrive. I smile at her as a member of staff punches a code into a key pad and lets me in.
Frowning she leans her head to one side and stares. The tension fades from her face and she beams. “Brenda.”
I wrap my arms round her. It’s good to feel her warmth. It’s been too long. I release my hold and take her hand. Her once manicured painted finger nails are chewed and free from polish. Besides regular trips to the hairdressers having her nails done used to be her only beauty treat. I’ve brought her favourite colour with me, blush pink, and a fragrant hand cream. They’re in my handbag along with some coloured cellophane. She likes the crinkly feeling on her fingertips and the crunching sound it makes when squeezing it.
She swings our linked hands and says to a female resident, “This is my sister Brenda.”
I’m not her sister but that she thinks I’m family is enough. “Where shall we sit?”
Puzzled she looks around the entrance hall as if seeing it for the first time. It’s large but surprisingly cosy with a couple of sofas and chairs snuck against a mulberry coloured wall. There’s a table in the corner housing a tree with slowly colour changing buds. It catches her eye and she walks towards it.
“Shall we sit here?” I say pointing at the sofa by the fake tree.
A puzzled look spreads across her face. I smile. Her eyes fill with warmth and maybe recognition. Her gradual smile has me grinning. “Yes Mum it’s me.”
She grips my hand a little tighter, “You came.”
“I’ve missed you sis,” she says.
Mum hasn’t remembered me for a few years. I’ve accepted it but there’s a spark of hope that ignites every time she’s pleased to see me. Perhaps this is the moment where she, we connect again. But it never is. She used to phone me more than once a week, sometimes daily. It irritated me. I was busy. But what I wouldn’t do to have those calls again. The phone call early on my birthday to sing Happy Birthday to me before I leave for work. “I’ve missed you too.”