The car parked, up the hill I went in the rain, again. The code number entered, sign in and then off in search of my mother. Nearly a year now since dementia and failing health brought her to this nursing home, better than most, but still not home. A quick look round the living room at the men and women snoozing in chairs. No mum there dwarfed by the overstuffed armchair. So tiny and frail she is these days – I always feel I could scoop her in my arms and hardly strain to do it.

Not there I check with one of the busy staff walking by who points me towards the dining room. There sits my mum at a table, completely still, eyes closed holding one of the cold cut pieces of toast in her hand. She looks like a spell has been cast upon her, a character in a children’s story, turned to stone. Completely still, caught mid motion. I touch her arm gently and she wakes, smiles in recognition and says hello. The relief of being recognised. I smile back and quietly prompt her back to her breakfast. She eats slowly. I talk. She understands and responds sometimes. Often not.

Later back in the room with the overstuffed chairs and sofas, the heat and the snoozers, I hold her hand as she snoozes too. My mum.