“Ok Daddy, can I bring teddy?
“Yes Patricia but you must hurry, we need to get in the shelter.”
Patricia grabbed teddy and then held on tight to her Daddy’s hand as they ran for the air raid shelter. She didn’t like it when the planes came. Her Dad had told her that Bristol was something called “strategic” so that meant that the Nancy’s liked to bomb it. She hated the noise of the sirens and the darkness of the shelter. She did like the fact that she got to eat cake when in the shelter and she was glad to have teddy with her this time.
“That’s it teddy you sit there.”
“Mum are you OK? This isn’t Ted, it’s Greg.”
Patricia concentrated for a moment and then noticed she was back again. Back in the care home and crouched before her was her daughter. She sighed to herself. Of course she knew who Greg was but she was talking to teddy. Why did no one ever pay attention to what was really happening.
“Sorry dear, I get confused easily. I was just talking to teddy.”
Her daughter frowned. She did her best to hide it but it was a frown nevertheless.
“That’s OK Mum. The Doctor said you would sometimes mix things up. It’s normal. It’s nothing to worry about is it Greg?”
Her son in law nodded his agreement but she could tell he was probably wishing he was at the football. Patricia smiled to herself. She didn’t feel what the Doctor thought counted one jot, she knew what was happening.
She could feel herself drifting once again. She was at work, in the office, with all of the girls. Mavis was sat opposite her and Enid across the row. They all typed and chatted and laughed.
“Mavis, I saw your Len last week walking up the way, looked like he’d had a couple of jars.”
Mavis frowned a cigarette poking out the side of her mouth.
“Yes he’d had a few more than a couple Pat. Been to the rugby, and the silly old sod dropped his house keys down the drain.”
They all laughed. Mr Bannister then walked into the room in his very particular way.
“Morning girls, merriment is abound early today I see.”
“Sorry, Mr Bannister Sir.” Said Enid, always eager to please.
“Not at all, if my girls are happy then they are also productive. Keep up the good work ladies. As you were.”
He walked briskly to his office, his gait betraying his military experience. They all still lived in the shadow of the war, rationing had only just ended after all. And they had all lost someone.
“How’s Frank getting on, now he’s manager Pat?”
“Frank’s very pleased, he says we might be able to get a new car in the summer.”
“No Mum, you can’t drive anymore, do you remember?”
Pat squinted and the beige walls and the blank mundane uniformity of her bedroom came into view. It lacked any personality, any sign that she, Patricia Croft, lived there. They called it the lavender suite. It felt more like a prison cell.
She closed her eyes and tried to get back to the office. She hadn’t quite perfected it yet. She could sense her daugther’s impatience. She’d tried to explain it to her once and they had just ended up increasing her medication, so since then she had kept quiet.
“I was talking to the girls about Frank’s car. I KNOW I CAN’T DRIVE. You all made sure of that.”
Her daughter did her best wounded kitten expression.
“Mum, there’s no need to get cross with me.”
“Yes, Frank says we can maybe get a Yugo.”
“Mum it’s me and Greg here, not Dad. You know that…”
Her daughter’s voice drifted away as she tried to slip back to the office but it was no good. She better face the music.
“Yes, sorry dear. You and Greg have come to see me. How nice. How are the little ones?”
They stayed for two hours. They always stayed for exactly two hours and they always bought her werther’s originals and a crossword puzzle. They were good to her and they meant well but they didn’t understand. They didn’t see and they rarely actually listened. But Patricia had a plan that would make everything better.
She drifted and she was walking up stairs. She turned into the room and there he was sat at his desk. Her Frank. Young and alive.
He turned and smiled.
“Patricia. You’re home.”
She smiled. She was home and she didn’t plan on ever leaving.
The carehome staff felt that her dementia was getting worse. She hardly recognised anyone these days and often she spoke with people who weren’t there. They were sad as she used to be so vibrant.
But Patricia knew differently as she and Frank walked hand in hand once more.
Copyright John de Gruyther 2017