I should tell you that my mother has died…. She was old, very old. I don’t remember precisely how old to the exact year. She wasn’t really ill, just thoroughly worn out.
My eldest sister, with whom she lived, was good to her. She soaked her bread in milk, made sure she went to the toilet, and gave her potatoes to peel to keep her occupied. She peeled and peeled as though she had an army to feed. We all took our potatoes to my sister’s, and on top of that Mother did the lady’s upstairs and a couple more neighbours’ besides, because once, when they’d tried giving her a bucket of potatoes that were already peeled to repeel, because stocks were low, she’d noticed and actually said, “They’ve already been peeled.”
When she couldn’t peel any more, because she could no longer co-ordinate her hands and eyes very well, my sister gave her wool and kapok which had been compressed into little hard lumps through having been slept on, to pick apart. It made a lot of dust and Mother herself was covered in fluff from head to toe.

Cheese by Willem Elsschot, 3-4

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