You always think that when you are a grown up the arguments and disagreements with your parents will stop; that as soon as you get past those teenage years with all the sulks and door slamming you will suddenly and miraculously be transformed into best friends. I certainly thought that this would be true but it hasn't taken me long to realise that parents and children are destined to disagree for their whole lives. It's strange; even though my mother always resisted every one of my suggestions I miss the arguments that we had. However angry I got with her I never stopped loving her. I just regret that we spent so much of her last years arguing.
I imagine that it's a discussion that many children have with their parents at one time or another. In our case it was soon after my father's death, just when my mother was getting used to being alone at night. It was about two in the morning and I had just got back to bed after comforting my four-year-old son, who had the flu. It was a nurse from my mother's local hospital saying that my mother had fallen down the stairs and broken her hip so could I please come in. My husband was on a business trip in Singapore and I couldn't leave my son alone so I had to get him out of bed and drive for forty-five minutes to the hospital. When I saw the nurse she told me that my mother had fallen down the stairs when she got up to go to the loo, I was very confused by this as my mother has no toilet in the downstairs of her house and her bathroom is connected to her bedroom by an adjourning door, however I gave it no more thought at the time.
Since my mother was an old woman her hip never healed properly and when she came out of hospital it became clear that it would be very difficult for her to continue living alone. Her hip was stiff and it was very hard for her to manage the stairs, as she had to be given a walking frame to help her keep her balance as she shuffled around. Also, since she lived quite a fair way out of town it would take a long time for anyone to reach her if she got into trouble. For these reasons I began to suggest to her that she moved to one of the residential homes in the area. These homes offer a fair amount of independence; each of the residents is given their own bungalow and the freedom to do as they want, but there are always people on hand to give assistance should they get into trouble.
The first time that I suggested this to her she refused point blank. She would not even listen to my arguments but practically pushed me out of her home with out so much as a goodbye. I was so angry; I drove the whole way home without seeing anything. There were tears in my eyes but they were of anger and frustration. I kept thinking how unreasonable and selfish she was, she didn't even give me a chance to explain. I resolved not to speak to her again but over the next week I couldn't help worrying about her, wondering whether she was all right. When Sunday came round, the time when I always called her, I couldn't resist picking up the phone, just to check if she was OK.