The worst thing with her dementia
is all these emotions have gone;
no anger, nothing left of the fire.
I remember one winter in Welwyn
Garden City, somehow she got
involved in deliveries to families
where some father was in prison –
children in dirty vests at the door –
bread and jam on Christmas Eve.
Dickensian, I guess it sounds a cliché.
She was in tears and couldn’t explain.
Driving home in silence – no blame for
us, just mute. This was a Utopian new
town, not rich, the poorer parts were
shunned, lost fifties council houses by
factories where shredded wheat was
made – I imagined the people in them
eating cereal, and nothing else. Now
shredded wheat itself seems a horror,
like old hair or straw from a scarecrow.
She was from a bone-poor family of
Smyrna Greek refugees I didn’t
understand; she said she slept in
shipping boxes and had to buy
her own Christmas presents –
told to get herself something.