Sunday, April 06, 2008

6th April
Last Saturday, I lost the key to my mother-in-law's flat.
Which doesn't sound like too much of a disaster: except that she is 83 and frail, fariler still since her recent stay in hospital. She suffers from diabetes, brittle bones, failing sight, failing strength in her hands, and painful arthritis.
And it's important for her to keep her door locked; she is frightened of being invaded and robbed.
So when I lost the key, her imagination got filled with images of the key falling into the wrong hands, and then people using it to invade her house and harm her.
So she got frightened.
I got frightened too. One of my nightmares is that she falls and breaks a bone, or falls into a diabetic coma, or somehow becomes too weak and helpless to unlock the door and let help in.
I lost it soon after doing her shopping. I'd cycled to the supermarket, come back with her shopping in my rucksack and my shopping in the bike paniers. I'd unloaded her shopping in her kitchen after letting myself in with her key, and then gone back home.
I always put her key on a hook just inside the door; but that day I thought, for some reason, "I don't have her key on me" and intended to find it and hang it up later.
Only I couldn't find the key. I searched my panniers, my rucksack.. all the likely places, and no end of unlikely places too.
But no key.
And then I had to endure her anxiety and reproaches.
And my anxiety and reproaches, too.
I stille them by telling myself: "It'll turn up."
But I didn't really believe it.
I didn't really believe that it would. Turn up when it was ready. Or I was ready.
Until yesterday, exactly a week later..
The day got off to a bad start. The cat had done a huge smelly shit in his litter tray. The house was still in chaos from the joiner mending the windows. The yard was noisy and full of smoke from the painters in ther spider contraption lifting them up so they could do the paintwork. I really didn't want to get up. Still less get up to give Jean her breakfast.
And I set off in a furious temper.
... which i did my best to conceal from her. As i started to make her some soup and left it gently bubbling as i cycled off to the supermarket.
Just before going, I asked what she thought she needed, and made a list.
On the little spiral notebook, and was touched to see she'd done a drawing of the tulips on her table. Done it on the little bit of paper I'd used to reckon up the last supermarket bill.
I tore the new list out the notebook, went to put it in my pannier bag...
... and there was the key. Exactly where it should have been all along.
Where it must have been: only, for some reason, my mind absolutely refused to see it.
I wonder how often that happens.
How often we convince ourselves that what we need is lacking from our lives: when in fact it is with us all along.
How often?
Maybe all the time.....

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