It's been a funny week. Last year, every day was dominated by my mum's stroke - either in the practical arrangements of travelling constantly to Belfast with a newborn and two children, or the emotional - the sheer pain and weight of missing her. But this year has brought an acceptance, an ability to take the weight off my shoulders occassionally and live my life, even enjoy it. Her stroke has melded into our lives instead of dominating it - and living with it has become a way of life.
But there are moments when it flares again, a reminder of what is, and what was.
Yesterday my brother was over seeing my mum. He decided to wheel her round to one of her friends for a change of scenery. On the phone to him earlier, I had begged him to put something decent on her, brush her hair and put on a bit of lippy. My brother and dad are great with my mum, but let's face it, they're men. She has a tendency to look like the Wild Woman of the West in their care. An hour later he called back. He needed guidance. He had made sure she had some good clothes on and now he stood opposite her, staring into the mystical abyss that was a woman's make-up bag and he needed me to tell him what to do. So I found myself standing in my kitchen, phone in hand, directing my 46 year old brother on powder blush and lipstick.
"Is it meant to leave a brown ring around her face?" he enquired dubiously.
I'm not sure how she looked in the end, but he tried. And I love him even more for it.
And today, one of my articles appeared in the Irish Times. I had written it a couple of months ago, and I HAD written it. But still. It was a shock. To see our story in print. To see my account of my mum's stroke in a national newspaper. I link it here. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/health/2012/0306/1224312843616.html
The impact of a stroke can strike at any time.