An Extra Pair of Hands: A Story of Caring, Ageing & Everyday Acts of Love
(PROFILE BOOKS, 192 PP, £12.99)
Tablet bookshop price £11.69 • tel 020 7799 4064
My mother, twice widowed, spent the last year of her life in our house, at the very heart of our large family. She came reluctantly, because the hospital had forbidden her to go back to living alone, and on the strict understanding that it was a temporary arrangement. She had cared for her own old parents and she was determined, as were so many of her generation, not to be “a burden”. In the event, for all of us, it proved to be the very best and happiest year of our lives.
My husband bought her an electric bed, which could sit her up, or raise her feet, or both. It had a 25-year guarantee but luckily, he told her, we could extend that. In the mornings, the old dog would potter affectionately into her room and lean on the controls, until the whole thing virtually jackknifed, to her huge amusement. Largely surviving on her chosen diet of chocolate, grapes and an evening tot of whisky, she told us we’d never get rid of her as she was having far too much fun. We never wanted to. Her grandchildren still vividly remember and frequently quote her with tremendous affection.