I drive down the same streets where I was a passenger all those years ago. The magnolia blooms planted in the sixties when these houses cropped up, are just peeking their heads out of the soft casings. Back then, the air felt grey and cold. That March was harsher to reflect the journey. A journey I took so many times to the hospital.
The air today is light and spring is on its way. Those blooms I once saw cowering away from the harsh cold are breaking through to the brightness outside. I make the same journey. Passed the streets of identikit houses. Each owner trying to mark theirs out as different. Putting their stamp on the home by painting the door a cheery red or planting daffodils to reach their heads up to the sunshine. Others are marked out in different ways. With the remnants of a once rally car slowly rusting or the hedge torn up to make way for parking. The grass decaying away with every passing of wheels over lawn.
Passed those houses and back to the same hospital. Back then, the wards and corridors felt like a maze. The big institution encapsulating my grandfather who seemed so small in those walls and a large bed engulfing him. The man I knew no longer there. No longer the one who carefully and patiently showed me how to paint. How to load the brush with colour and blend. His caring hands gnarled from so many years of manual work, delicate in their ability to plait my hair in the way he did for his show horses. Who helped me tend to plants on his allotment. The skills he passed me fresh still in my mind, but lost to him as he stayed in that bed.
Today I know where to go. An adult following signs not the way of my parents. I see the hospital as a place of rest and recovery. My mum, sat on the chair next to the bed, still cracks jokes and her eyes crinkle to share the laughter where her breath can’t. Even in the couple of days I have made this journey, the breath is returning to her lungs as the life returns in the spring. As the magnolia flowers break their winter coats she will grow stronger and my last journey today leaves her safe. Safe in the knowledge that she will get better.