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While I was staying with my mother, I noticed she kept rubbing her left eye. My sister Jocelyn noticed that the eyelid was red and slightly swollen and suggested she get some antibiotic cream. Marion was immediately against this idea. She's generally against any suggestion my sister or I make, so we took the law into our own hands and drove her to the local pharmacy.

Mum stayed in the car while we went inside to see the duty pharmacist, a nervous young man called Benjamin. Yes, they had anitbiotic cream but he would need to see the eye before he could sell it to us. So we lured him out to the carpark, warning him that Marion was annoyed with us and might be ferocious. This seemed to make Benjamin more nervous.

Marion was sitting in the backseat of the car with her seatbelt on and a frosty look on her face when we opened the door to introduce him. She is tiny, just 52kg, and ninety years old.

‘Who the hell are you?’ my mother barked.

Benjamin took a step back.

He’s the duty pharmacist, we explained, but Benjamin, now wary, stood back to view the eye from a safe distance as if he was dealing with a chained guard dog. When he asked her about the eye, she gave one of her evasive, distracting answers about how she has an eye warmer from the hospital, that this is what the specialists advise for her eyes, blah, blah.

'Do you use the eye warmer?' he asked politely.

Her reply was swift: 'No, I do not!'

We left with the cream and the infection had cleared up within days.

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