Sunshine and Second Chances – Chapter Four

Today I’m sharing Chapter Four from my latest novel Sunshine and Second Chances.

Sunshine and Second Chances - Kim Nash

In Chapter One you met Olivia and in Chapter Two you met Samantha. Yesterday when I shared Chapter Three, you met Debs and today I’m going to introduce you to Fiona.

Hope you love meeting my ladies as much as I enjoyed writing them.

SUNSHINE AND SECOND CHANCES: A heart-warming, feel-good summer read about friendship, love and second chances.

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‘I’m really not sure I should go, you know. I’m not sure it’s the right thing to do.’ Fiona’s voice cracked, and she screwed up the tissue that she’d been holding onto.

She took her mum’s hand and her mum smiled at her, content in her own little world, not really taking in anything that Fiona had said. Fiona wondered if her mum even knew who Fiona was at that particular moment.

‘She’ll be fine here with us, Fiona, and it’s only for a week. Then Mum can come home with you again.’ Brenda, the care home manager, was such a kind lady and Fiona totally trusted her. She really liked the home, and the room that they’d put aside for her mum, but she couldn’t help but have mixed feelings.

‘She’ll be having a lovely little holiday herself and we’ll have a lovely time together, won’t we, Marion?’

‘Can we do some singing? I like singing. I used to play the piano, you know. Did you know I used to be a music teacher?’

‘Did you, my love? Of course we can do some singing. We can do anything you want.’

Fiona smiled. As far as she knew her mother had never played the piano in her life and had never worked. She’d been a housewife, looking after her daughter until Fiona left home to go to university, and her husband Bill until he suffered a huge heart attack and passed away, leaving her bereft. At the time, Fiona had wanted to quit university and come home to her mother, but Marion had insisted that Bill would have wanted Fiona to continue her studies to make something of her life and go on to become a teacher. Perhaps that’s what her mother was getting muddled about now.

Since Fiona had finally accepted what was happening to her mum, she had fought for a good while to get her mum’s diagnosis confirmed so that they could get the help they needed. She’d had her suspicions for a long time but when she started to get calls from her mother’s neighbours to say that she was walking down the street in her nightclothes, she knew something had to be done before it got any worse.

A ringing phone turned her into a nervous wreck, having no idea what she was going to discover when she picked up.

It hadn’t been easy. Numerous trips to the doctor, which were distressing enough for someone with Alzheimer’s, then a visit to the memory clinic, had been the final step before they could all move forward.

Fiona had given up her job as a teacher, determined to look after her mum and spend as much time with her as possible. She’d immediately cleared out her mum’s bungalow and she’d moved in with Fiona and at first it had been OK. Manageable even. But being around her mum every day made Fiona realise just how much and how quickly she had been deteriorating.

Fiona had taken her mum out for lunch recently with Samantha. Bearing in mind that they’d known each other all through childhood, when Marion asked Samantha who she was when she got in the car and then at the pub had asked her again, it hit Fiona hard that things were changing dramatically as well as quickly.

However, she’d learnt over the last few months, with the help of a brilliant support group, that it was no good getting frustrated with her mum because she didn’t know what she was doing or saying. They helped her see the funny side of things where they could, too and that balanced the immense sadness she seemed to carry around with her most of the time.

When she’d met Brenda at a social group that they went to every Thursday night, she’d found her so easy to talk to and ended up pouring out her heart, telling her that she’d been invited to a fiftieth birthday celebration in Portugal but couldn’t even consider it and didn’t know how to tell her friends.

Brenda just happened to be the manager of Chase Lodge, a nursing home on the outskirts of Cannock Chase Forest, and just a couple of miles from Fiona’s house. She handed Fiona her card and asked her to call her and have a look round. It was a beautiful place, full of happy staff who really seemed to enjoy looking after the residents, and in principle it sounded perfect, but now it was only a few days away, she was getting more and more nervous.

‘It’s just a week’s respite for both you and Marion, my lovely. We’re going to have a super time and so are you, so please, stop worrying. She’s in good hands. And it’ll do you both good. Her spending a few days, and the odd night, here before you go, should put both your minds at rest. She’s quite familiar with the place now, and at least you can see that she’s settled and happy here.’

She knew that Brenda was right but she felt so much guilt. Guilt that she was going to go off and enjoy herself. Guilt at leaving her mother behind. Guilt because as life evolves the child becomes the parent. And guilt at the fact that sometimes she wished it was all over.

As she walked away from the room, she swallowed down a lump that was forming in her throat and sincerely hoped that she was doing the right thing. She wondered whether she’d ever be able to forgive herself if anything happened to her mum while she was away. She clutched her chest as the thought occurred to her – what if this was the last time she ever saw her mum alive? A tear rolled down her cheek.

She glanced over her shoulder one more time and saw her mum turn to Brenda. In a very loud whisper, she heard her mum say, ‘She’s pretty. Who is that lady that just left?’ She smiled a sad smile. Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease, but you had to embrace it instead of fighting it to get through.

So you’ve met all the ladies now. If you would like to read more, about their trip to The Algarve, SUNSHINE AND SECOND CHANCES is just 99p right now.

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Kim Nash