Dairy of a Reluctant Replacement Domestic Goddess

Monday 20th
Dad's birthday. Quick trip to Tesco followed by sarnie lunch and drink in local boozer. Never actually made pub. Or Tesco. Instead had thrilling ride in ambulance with parents after Mum slipped on black ice. She keeps telling paramedics, porters, nurses, doctors etc that she was on way TOWARDS pub when accident happened. She is admitted with broken ankle. Ankle has to be pinned. I try hard not to listen to gory details of how this will be achieved. Dad & I leave now fed up, Mum in hospital, at 8.30pm and return home to only meal of the day - hastily cobbled together cheese sandwich, chocolate buttons and a bottle of red wine. What? We were stressed! I trip over Dad's walking boots and nearly end up in A & E myself.
Tuesday 21st 
Christmas is now in doubt. Mum's ankle too swollen today for operation. Will have to wait to see what happens tomorrow. Two visiting sessions today. With trip to and from hospital leaves 1 hour to cook, eat and gather up items from increasingly long list of 'essentials' (lip balm, perfume etc) to take back to hospital. Leave now grumpy Mum at hospital at 8.00pm. Dad trips over my boots, so the score is now even.
Wednesday 22nd
Operation okay for today. Docs say they will do their 'damnedest' to get Mum home for Christmas. This doesn't sound nearly as positive as I'd like - I still don't know whether to defrost salmon. Return to hospital to find Mum not at all drowsy. I try not to listen to graphic discussions of operation details and aftermath of epidural.
Thursday 23rd
Christmas make or break day. If we (for that read Mum) can convince hospital physios she can use crutches she will be allowed home. Mum impresses us and more importantly physios with immediate ability to use both walking frame and crutches. But she still has to practise with crutches and then 'pass staircase test'. While physios go on break, we coach her with crutches and cunningly, we think, make her hop to nurses' station where she is witnessed by at least four medical experts. We are secretly quite pleased with ourselves. At 4pm no sign of physios, who go off duty at 6.30. Leave hospital assuming worst. As we clear up dinner pots (thank you M&S for ready meals) Mum rings. She is waiting for us to collect her. Apparently she is a genius at hopping up stairs! We arrive at bedside to find Mum waiting, a little impatiently, with her painkillers and mobility equipment. Thirty minutes later sees Dad wheeling her down corridor with me trailing behind carrying a toilet frame, crutches and a walking frame. As I am cannoning off various surfaces, causing untold damage to NHS property, Dad takes crutches from me and hands them to Mum. We arrive home, thanks to very helpful and charming taxi driver, and sink into armchairs with another bottle of wine.
Friday 24th
Christmas Eve! We are finding that, when you can't put any weight on your right leg, it's darned near impossible to do anything without assistance. This includes … bathroom matters. Washing, using the loo, getting dressed, even cleaning teeth requires pre-planning of military precision. Is there enough space for the walking frame? Is the cat about to leap out and attack the crutches? And while we're up, do we need to use the loo? 
Saturday 25th
Merry Christmas! All sooo happy to have Mum here for Christmas! We have our dearest friends over today so Mum has little time to notice that we are muddling through a bit. We decide, it's Christmas - it doesn't matter.
Sunday 26th
Power cut at Pride Park Stadium has obligingly caused postponement of match we are no longer able to attend. We hope that it will be rearranged for a warm, spring evening when no-one is on crutches. Mum is now feeling very perky which means she is noticing things are not being done. Great disadvantage of her using crutches/walking frames is that she sees every speck of dust on the carpet. Also lots of 'oh, you're doing it that way'. Unspoken denouement is, of course, 'so clearly you don't know what your doing, but I'll let you finish and then clean up your mess'. Since she can't clean anything up right now, she is confined to sitting, watching and finger twitching rather than plunging in. On way escorting Mum to bathroom, discover Mum may not be so far off the mark as am intercepted by Dad with steam coming out of ears and custard over his person, having spilled pint of the stuff over kitchen floor. Deposit Mum in bathroom. Dad & I get on hands & knees pondering on how quickly you can develop housemaid's knee. Clean custard from Dad's Birkenstocks and place custard-soaked socks and towels on laundry pile. Return to collect Mum from bathroom to find her laughing her head off. Laundry day tomorrow is not filling me with optimism. Can't think why.
Monday 27th
Laundry day. Am beginning to agree with Mum that it is daft that washing machine & tumble dryer are in boiler room, accessible only from back garden. Sleet, rain and snow continue to drench me as I start my portion of redivided household chores. Have week's worth of clothes & bedsheets to wash. Stagger out with armfuls of dirty laundry. Can't use laundry basket since that is still full of last week's yet-to-be-tackled ironing.
Open the back door, open the screen door, close the back door, close the screen door. Open the boiler room door. Discover it is locked, return through both doors to fetch key. Try to unlock door. It's jammed. Time for the knee-jammed-against-the-door trick I learned from Dad - ponder on whether this is why he has bad knee. Open boiler room door. Place piles of dirty laundry on top of washing machine. Pick up scattered dirty laundry from floor where it has just fallen, make note not to do this with clean laundry. Load & start washing machine. Wash cycle will take 44 minutes. Set kitchen timer for 45 minutes (allowing an extra minute for luck). Try to work. After writing four lines am summoned to boiler room by kitchen timer. Load lovely clean washing into tumble dryer. This is going well! Shut door, set programme and press 'start'. An urgent bleeping sound is coming from the dryer. Reprogramme, same result. Quick check of manual reveals water reservoir (had wondered where all that went) needs emptying. Empty reservoir and try again. Nothing. No sound, no movement, no nothing. Re-read manual and try once more. Nothing. Defeated, return inside to consult the Oracle of All Things Domestic. Me: Sorry to disturb you, but I can't get the tumble dryer to start. 
Mum: Have you emptied the reservoir?
Me: Of course!  
Mum: What else did you do?  
Me: Exactly what it said in the manual.  
Mum: Oh the manual's useless! Ignore it. You have to press B then A, then D then C, then Start!
Me: ????????
Use Mum's secret code - it works! Toss manual in drawer and curse idiot that wrote it. Now find drying cycle that I assumed would take 44 minutes (same as washing cycle after all) will take 2 hours. Realise I am going to have to keep four loads of wet washing separate while I wait for dryer. Expect to get to bed around 3am. Open dryer after prescribed time to reveal perfectly dry clothes that (big plus point here) barely need an iron! Triumph! Second load emerges rather damp. Am puzzled - used same secret code!  Decide to hang 'dried' clothes to finish off on short lines in boiler room. Three, increasingly damp, loads later and I have filled lines and a clothes horse with items to 'finish off'. Daren't bring it inside for fear of blocking route to and from toilet for non-ambulatory family member. Boiler room now resembles shanty town.
After dinner, and well-deserved bottle of red, Dad and I get up to clear away. Find oven door is jammed. Much careful, then less careful yanking opens it. Discover screw missing from door. Dad, not realising this happens from time to time (a secret Mum has kept to herself for three years), swept the floor, believing screw to be errant raisin from Christmas cake.Try to replace screw temporarily with screw from little-used grill but does not fit. Question: Who would use two types of screw in one kitchen appliance?
Me: We'll have to search the bin.    

Dad: The dustmen come tomorrow. I've taken it out to the dustbin.  

Me: (not terribly silent curse as Dad gets bin bag from the dustbin at our gate)

Dad: (returning with a bag) I think this is the one. They all look the same.

Empty contents of bin bag on to newspaper-strewn floor. Find screw. Try several screwdrivers & allen keys before able to reunite screw with oven door. Kitchen floor now in need of  mopping. This will be third time in two days (after yesterday's 'custard incident'). Mum laughs some more. I decide this lack of domesticity may well be why I remain single.

Tuesday 28th
Dad takes Mum out in wheelchair lent to us by kind friends. It is a 'first' for both of them. Am certain Mum has forgotten Dad's record with airport trolleys or she would have refused to climb aboard. Cats have conveniently fallen to sleep below radiator. With promise of more than half an hour of 'alone time' I resolve to get some work done but end up spending much of time in bathroom luxuriating in not having to listen for calls for help from Mum, advice from Dad or food from cats. Bliss!
Parents return, slightly frazzled, from safari around neighbourhood. Thanks to cars on pavements and dustbins strewn around streets this has proved quite an adventure. Mum's front seat driving (warnings of ice patches - understandable, and fears of veering off-road - less so) and Dad's rookie pushing skills has brought them to the edge of tears/laughter. Getting Mum-filled wheelchair back inside (up step, through hall) is not easy but we manage … eventually. Mum not entirely helping by leaning forward to see what we are doing and so shifting weight perilously close to edge of seat.  Time, I think, for a cuppa.

Wednesday 29th
We are all tired, but get up extra early in hope of starting our working days before 10.30am (as has been the case so far). The effort works but leaves Mum sleepy, Dad at Tesco's & me trying to update website before making dinner.
It is now one week after the operation, only another five to go before plaster removed … heaven help us!


The ankle in question

Not even a broken ankle can stop some people directing events …