For the past several months, my mother, now 94 and a half years old, (“I’m nearly 95, Debbie!”) has complained that her sofa has been falling to bits. On our last visit, we had to agree. The cushion covers had torn and were exposing the seat pads which were, themselves, worse for wear. The sofa itself was not in good shape and though the jury is out on exactly how old it was, the general consensus is that it must have been about 25-30 years old.
“We will pick you up tomorrow and take you to choose a new sofa,” we offered.
Mum was pleased, she then proceeded to tell us how terrible her sofa was, again.
I should explain that my mother’s memory is now very poor, erratic is a word I could use. The effects of old age, hitherto not too noticeable in her, have manifested themselves in a variety ways of late, one being her total lack of recall. Conversations go round in circles and while I am happy to repeat the answers to questions and have oodles of patience most of the time, it does make it difficult to organise anything. However, a lifelong obsession with her hair and how she looks, has not left her.
When told she would be collected for a Doctor’s appointment at 9.15am the other week, her first comment was,
“That’s a bit early, I shall have to put a couple of rollers in my hair,”
(Her obsession with appearances does not end with herself, it extends to her daughters too, but that is another story!)
To get back to the point of this story, it was agreed that we would collect her at 11am – giving her plenty of time to put rollers in her hair.
Storm Dennis arrived that morning, hot on the heals of storm Ciara. Lisa, my good friend and confidante, who is so good with my mother, had, thoughtfully, brought a large umbrella with her, though we all wondered if it would withstand the gale force winds and rain that would greet us.
There was a brand new Next store in town. We planned to head there and view their home furnishing section.
At 11 o’clock we were on my mother’s doorstep.
She appeared, looking immaculate as ever, hair neatly curled just so, despite the latter having become quite thin lately. Behind us, storm Dennis raged. Lisa opened the umbrella so that at no time twixt front door and car, was my mother exposed to the elements. The rest of us probably resembled drowned rats.
My suggestion of, “You could put on a head scarf,” met with a stoney look,
“It would flatten my hair,” she declared.
Off we set.
“No, I’m afraid we don’t stock furniture here, the nearest furniture store is in Colchester or Chelmsford,” the very nice sales assistant informed us as she wrote down the postcodes for us on a scrap of paper.
Thanking her, Dave decided Colchester was the best option. With the umbrella sheltering my mother, we headed back to the car.
Eventually, we found ourselves in the furniture showroom which displayed several, reasonably priced, sofas for my mother to look at. Having sat on a few, she settled for the first one she’d tried. She liked the colour and the style and its size.
“If you like this one, shall I order it?” I enquired. My mother clearly had not expected to be asked this question. Exactly what she had expected, I am not sure,
“Oh, order it now? Well, I hadn’t thought, I suppose so, I do like it. It is very comfortable…”
The timely interruption by a sales assistant was welcomed.
While the latter debated the colour of the sofa, (was it really Dove or was it silver grey?) and wrote down all the necessary details, my mother sat, a little bemused but happy.
“The earliest delivery I have, is 5 days time…Thursday…or Sunday,”
I was a little taken aback at the speed with which this sofa, or one like it, could be dispatched.
“What do you think Mum?”
“Well, whatever you think,” she nodded.
I fought off the feeling that I was pushing my mother into this, with the argument that she needed a new sofa, she didn’t have many opportunities to actually view or try out a new sofa. She had been moaning about the old sofa for months, in almost every daily phone call.
Strike while the iron is hot, has always been my motto (one of many) so I decided that Thursday would be a very good day. My sister would be away and would not be bothered by a zillion phone calls from our mother on that day. I was certain there would be phone calls and many of them.
“Thursday will be fine,” I told the lady taking the order, “do you collect the old sofa?”
“Oh, no, I don’t think we do, sorry,” she replied.
Off we went, umbrella sheltering my mother, splashing through puddles and forging our way through the gale force winds. Storm Dennis did not let up.
We made our way to a nearby Costa – here is my mother with Lisa looking, happy!
That night I didn’t sleep very well. I was trying to work out how I would get rid of the old sofa before Thursday. The council required a sofa to be left by the kerb – hardly possible given the position of my mother’s house, not to mention no one being there to carry it out. I would be back in Hampshire.
Luckily, we had a collective brainwave the next day and before long, it was arranged that our nephew, J and his care worker, K, would hire a van, remove the sofa and dispose of it before the new one arrived on Thursday. Both were only too pleased to be asked and eager to help.
Fast forward to Thursday morning and the phone calls:
1) My mother checking what time the new sofa was arriving.(Between 12 and 2pm)
2) My mother to check when the new sofa was arriving (between 12pm and 2pm) and when the old sofa was being collected. (before 12pm)
3) My mother to tell me that K and J were there but could not get the old sofa through the doorway so were waiting for the delivery men to help them.
4) K, to update me on the problems they had and to assure me that they would sort it. (whew!)
5) The delivery team telling me they would be there between 12.30 and 1.30pm, narrowing the time slot.
6) Me – I passed on the information to my mother who became very anxious about the time slot being narrowed and could not understand it was merely a more accurate update to the delivery time.
7) Me updating my mum and K because I had been given yet another new time by the delivery company, by text. They had been delayed and would be there between 1.30pm and 2.30pm. (K and J went out for some lunch to give my mum some peace).
9) The delivery driver to tell me they would be with me in 25 mins, at 1.25pm. (I advised him he would not as I was in Hampshire but my mother would be there.)
10) Me to update K with this new information. K and J assured me they’d go straight back.
11) My mother, to tell me the delivery drivers couldn’t get the old sofa out either but had got the new one in and K had gone to buy some tools so he could ‘modify’ the old sofa.
12) 13) 14)…
Well, you get the picture…phone calls galore…
There were more as the day wore on of course…
A couple of weeks have passed and the new sofa has gone from being, “lovely but rather firm”, to being “very comfortable and so good for my back!” Hooray!
One of life’s little challenges taken on and overcome. Now, bring on the next!