You may recall Lola's last appearance in regards to copious amounts of Tim Tam chocolate biscuits. A few weeks later Lola had a fall in the dining room. She hit her head and was bleeding, so an ambulance took her to hospital. We then didn't see Lola for about two months. I wondered what could have been wrong. (I never did find out, but then, elderly people tend to get kept in hospital for extra days just because. Doctors probably assume that they don't get any care once they leave.) It's relatively common for a resident to go to hospital on an emergency trip and then just never return - not that they die, but they either stay on for months there or go to rehabilitation to relearn to walk, or go to respite care in a nursing home until they get their strength back, or they get a permanent nursing home bed. Their dinner-table seat sits there, empty, with the kitchen staff vaguely aware that they've gone for good. And Lola was gone for so long that she became one of the ones we sorta didn't expect to return.
So one day as I did the rounds, I got a huge shock to find Lola sitting quietly and expectantly in her chair, waiting for her soup. "Oh, Lola!" I exclaimed, "it's so good to see you! You look great!"
She smiled demurely and nodded her thanks, and said, "It's good to see you too!" And we were just smiling at each other for a moment, and I thought everything was good again, since people returning from hospital usually seem to be in better shape than when they left. And she really did look well. Her skin was glowing and she looked more alert, she had a nice outfit on, and a little makeup, and she looked infinitely more healthy than I could remember her ever looking. The time in hospital had been very good to her. And then suddenly she added, "Where have I been that you haven't seen me?"
It took me a second to recover, and realise that she didn't remember two months in hospital. I managed to mumble that I'd been busy and had time off work. Beside her, Mara was smirking a self-satisfied grin at my expense. Lola finished her food in record time and was gone before dessert. As I handed out jelly and ice-cream, Mara had a conspiratory whisper ready for me. "Dennis told her earlier that he was glad she was back from hospital," she began. "Lola thanked him for his concern, then politely told him she hadn't been to the hospital and she was quite fine, thank you." Before I could react, she had started her next bit of news. "And her son has been to visit her," she intoned.
"He brought her a bunch of flowers, and a packet of Tim Tams."