I called Mum earlier to wish her a happy 88th birthday for tomorrow.

“I’m NOT going to bingo – I hate it!” she yelled at me.

“OK, OK what’s the problem with bingo, Mum?”

“I HATE bingo and I WON’T go. And I’m NOT fat”.  

A little bit of mental back-tracking and I realised that she was getting bingo and birthdays mixed up.  Tomorrow she’ll be 88 and, of course, 88 is “two fat ladies” in bingo talk.  She’s never been a bingo fan, but this number has obviously stayed with her, buried deep somewhere in her memory bank.  She took me to bingo a lot when I was a little girl and I was hooked from the moment I won a beach ball at my very first bingo game on a seaside pier somewhere in the South Coast.  It was magical; they shouted out numbers and strange phrases, people ticked off their numbers and you won a prize.  It happened at the next game too.  Double beach ball joy.  I made up a poem that I’m sure must have driven her to distraction, but she never protested.  It went something like this:

Bingo, bingo, bingo,  a game with silly lingo, two fat ladies, legs eleven, win a beach ball and go to Heaven.  Wordsworth would have been proud of me as I sang it all holiday.

The concept of age is obviously confusing Mum today.  She told me that she thinks I’m 35 and Tony’s 38, so we’ll keep it there if it makes her feel better.  I asked her how old she’d like to be and she said 33.  It was the age she was when I was born.  Aah, that’s nice, Mum.  That’s such a sweet thing to say.  “You were much easier to deal with before you learned to talk!”, then she collapses into peels of laughter as her carers jokingly admonish her in the background.  “Don’t be mean, Margaret”,  “Oh Margaret, that’ not a nice thing to say to your daughter”. 

“Oh she doesn’t mind.  She’s been around a long time.  Fancy having an 88 year-old daughter! Who’d have believed it?”

Who indeed? All the fives, that’s who.

Happy Birthday, darling Mum xx

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