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The garden centre. by Sara Warshawski – this is my truth, tell me yours

The garden centre. by Sara Warshawski




by Sara Warshawski


We, that is me and a friend, are taking Mum to the garden centre, to get some bulbs and winter colour to plant in the garden outside Mum’s window. Until the summer Mum could still with help manage to walk a bit but now, she needs to use a wheelchair and needs two of us to help her in and out of the car. We got ready to go, wrapping up warm. ‘Bring me back some doughnuts’ Steve, one of the residents says, ‘only if I find a doughnut tree’, ‘look by the spaghetti tree’ he says, and we laugh.

The blue badge has arrived so we can park in the right place to get her safely from the car and into her chair. It’s ironic then that getting into the car proves impossible, Mum cannot bend her knees enough to get in, a car seat is so much lower than a chair, it’s as if she doesn’t believe there is anything there behind her. We try every which way all with a lot of laughter but it’s clear nothing is going to work so Joe, the handyman says he’ll give us a lift in the minibus, it’s not far and he’s looking forward to the bulbs for the garden. Mum stands on the stairlift, is a little surprised when it starts moving but with both hands held. she enjoys the ride and with the seats a better height, we’re settled and belted and off we go. To the Garden centre with restaurant and shopping outlet combined.

We choose some cyclamens and a bumper bag of mixed daffs and narcissi for everyone to enjoy. We find a table in the restaurant. People are far more interesting to Mum than food. She does a lot of smiling and she gets a lot of smiles back so that’s a plus. Genuine smiles and then the look to me, a sudden connection with a stranger that just a look can give. We share understanding in those moments. And whilst I stand in the queue to order our lunch and Susi sits with Mum, one of those smile donors gives me a voucher so we can have free cake.

When we ring to book a taxi for the journey home, we forget we are in school run time and all the wheelchair friendly taxis are booked for the next two hours. We ring and leave a message for the home explaining the situation. Then both our phones stop working so we don’t get the message that the home are sending out the van to pick us up and we wonder how we are going to spend another two hours here, it is too far to walk home. but after dawdling in every section that we can find, which only takes twenty minutes, we emerge into sunshine, Susi’s phone rings, ‘he’s on his way’ and sure enough five minutes later, Joe comes around the corner. With a merry smile and a wink for Mum who winks back and squeezes my hand as we sit in the back and ride home.

The garden centre: September 2018.