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The Start

This is the post excerpt.

About 3 years ago we made a decision that was to change our lives completely. We suggested to my then 96 year old mother that she comes to live with us. There were sound reasons behind our decision as she was not looking after herself very well and was looking very weak and wobbly. We also felt that her relationship with us was good and vice versa and we would make this work. We really had no idea what we were doing; what we were taking on or how it would affect us.

 

Are you sitting comfortably….

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….then I’ll begin. Those of us of a certain age will remember a radio programme, in the afternoons, called Listen with Mother. It began in the very early fifties for the under fives and ran, I believe into the eighties. It was great for small children who could enjoy a magical story, a nursery rhyme and music whilst sitting with their mothers.

Well, the LSO and I seem to have slipped back in time and each day we have a session of listening to the AP relate yet another tale from the past. The only trouble is these stories are becoming mixed up with other happenings and no longer reflect the actual events at all but the AP insists her made-up version of things are right. The AP has a burning desire to be in control of us which of course is not going to happen so she becomes like a fractious child when thwarted and unfortunately having heard the stories many times we know the correct versions. It’s difficult to deal with because for one thing it doesn’t really matter if it’s all wrong most of the time. It was all in the past but we cannot sit there and say we remember these non existent events especially the ones that appear to involve us in some way so we find ourselves becoming silent as we try to think of a way of changing the subject. The other problem of course is that we are far from being children and are only too aware that our lives are slipping away in a sea of uncomfortable sameness.

Later the same evening a relative from New Zealand rang to speak primarily to the AP and we heard her saying how she walks often around the garden at a brisk pace. What nonsense. She hasn’t been near the garden for months, it has been too cold and too wet for a lot of the time and as for being brisk, well even more nonsensical but why not be honest and just say that. Sadly it’s all part of the fictitious image the AP insists on projecting.

We do understand her need to try to be ahead of the game, or rather her game but at some point some true honesty and acceptance would go a long way with just a hint of grace thrown in for good measure.

You have to laugh.

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Actually I did laugh. The AP arrived downstairs yesterday after her weekly shower and announced it had been lovely. We do have awful water pressure problems here in the village and I asked her if there had been a good flow of water. Oh yes she replied followed by ‘but I’m not really the one to ask as I don’t need as much water as you do, being smaller’. For just a moment I was stunned as the implication sank in and I just had to laugh; you really couldn’t make it up. I was asking about the water pressure and didn’t expect a response that implied my much fatter body needed more water in the shower. I think the AP thought she was being very witty, not insulting in the least but it has made me smile at intervals throughout the day just because of the sheer gall.

I decided today, after a phone call from a good friend, that I really need to plan my menus in advance if I wish to have any success at losing some of my excess weight. That may sound easy for most but it isn’t for me. I tend to gauge how I feel each day about what to prepare for dinner. For instance ‘am I in a chilli or curry mood? Do I fancy cooking fish or shellfish? Perhaps a vegetarian dish would be something a bit different so as you can see I am not too good at wearing a straight jacket where food is concerned and I guess that explains partly why I have a weight problem.

The LSO has said that the AP will have to accept that if I am to lose weight she will either have the same as us or a ready or pre-prepared meal from the freezer. I will not be explaining any of this to the AP because I know from experience she will never be off my back. It will be a continuous stream of questions and useless advice based on no knowledge and I will become even more stressed out.

Low carbs are the way to go and tonight we are eating out which can sometimes present problems. But tomorrow, well I will start then.

Is it genetic.

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It’s back to the fat issue! Is there really a fat gene or do fat people just eat the wrong things? I do eat a sensible diet, well balanced generally but probably a little too heavy on the carbs but that is something that can be lessened. I don’t eat or drink huge quantities and the need to reduce carbs is to do with diabetes. Just how much of the fat problem is genetically inherited? It would be great if scientists could discover a magic pill to just  melt the fat away.

Yesterday evening the AP thought she was being really subtle by mentioning that she had been watching Tom Kerridge on the TV and was telling the LSO and myself how much weight he had lost and he has produced a book about it all, would I like it! For those who have read my previous blogs you will know that the subject of my weight is not a topic of discussion especially with the AP but in this case I was irritated but also slightly amused. Tom Kerridge probably lost a great deal of his weight by giving up a prodigious drinking habit. I am not in the habit of downing 15 pints a day although I do enjoy a couple of glasses of wine. The irritation factor is that despite asking her not to be so critical about my weight she still persists. If I felt it was a genuine concern about my health I really wouldn’t mind but I know it is all to do with vanity and other peoples perceptions of her. A fat daughter is not good for HER image. Unfortunately her constant ‘nibbing’ for want of a better word has done nothing for my self esteem and my general response when feeling down and frustrated by it all is to head in the direction of a nice comforting carb.

Also still on the same subject, all these dieting books are much the same and I have a cupboard full of them, The Hairy Dieters, Anthony Worral Thompson, Low Carb Cooking, Low Fat Recipes, books by Slimming World and WeightWatchers, the list is endless. That is not to say that these books aren’t useful because they are and they are great guides when meal planning. Interestingly they all have two things in common and that is the prevalence of punchy, spicy flavours and a variety of lovely crisp vegetables so once again we go full circle and are back to the problem that continually haunts me these days. How do I cook for us and also satisfy the AP and her love of bland, soft food smothered in sauces or gravy.

We have another fridge/freezer arriving next week to go in the utility room and the LSO has decided that one drawer will be dedicated to meals for the AP whether bought in or pre-prepared. Well, it’s a plan and sadly no magic pill for me, just diet and exercise.

Here we go again and again and again…….

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I dread anything that arises to do with the AP’s finances, in particular the income tax she has to pay on her rented property.  She has always been convinced she doesn’t need to pay any and every year when it comes to payment we go through the same rigmarole as the three previous years. We explain everything again and again and she gets more and more unpleasant as she obviously thinks we know nothing and couldn’t possibly be right either.

The AP has absolutely no grace and every time things are patiently explained to her she tells us she didn’t know these facts before and now its all clear, until next time when once again the whole scenario is repeated. She never ever says thank you for the effort made to handle all her affairs.

This lack of understanding would be easier to deal with if she was more accepting of her limitations instead of pretending she is so capable and mentally alert. I can understand that she is frustrated by being so old and forgetful but she does not help herself by talking over us all the time and telling us we haven’t told her anything. The implication of course is that everybody is out to fleece her and that must include the LSO and myself. That would be laughable if it didn’t hurt so much. The AP is basically a bully and I think always has been and her response to any adversity is to attack. She has kept this side of her nature well hidden, well from me anyway but I can only think that the deterioration of the old grey matter, through the ageing process, has stripped away the veneer of sweetness revealing a sour little monster that has lurked there all her life. She does make some effort to be a ‘dear old lady’ but these occasions are becoming less frequent and in fact are rather unpalatable as we know they are false and won’t last.

Astonishingly she seems to resent that we have done more than her in our lives and know more than her too. I am unable to comprehend this attitude; the LSO and myself are proud that all our family members have exceeded anything we have achieved and feel no resentment or jealousy, just relief and pleasure that they have done and are doing so well in life.

 

 

 

The hopeless dieter.

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I am overweight and useless at dieting so what is the answer? I must have tried just about every diet available but nothing lasts. I hate dieting clubs and the boring meetings that leave me climbing the walls. I am not a failed dieter just a hopeless one. I did manage to lose a goodly amount of weight on the LighterLife diet and kept it off for over three years but then we moved and the weight along with the good life crept back on. Do I just accept I am fat? No, sadly now I am classed as diabetic that is not really an option so I really must do something to change my life. Even as I write this I am thinking about food or rather trying not to and I have even put on some gentle new age music by Enya in the hope it will induce a sense of inner calm.

I can procrastinate for England finding any excuse not to exercise and these range from looking after the AP to it’s too cold/ too wet/ too hot, anything really. Equally I am not a couch potato and can on an average day cover 8000 steps just trundling around the house and the kitchen according to my Fitbit. I do try to swim three times a week although lately that has been shelved while we renovate the utility room.

In fairness the bit about looking after the AP is not just an excuse. My passion is cooking but I love experimenting with strong flavours, the LSO and myself enjoy chillies, (we even grow our own), spices, herbs and discovering dishes from around the world. I can get hugely excited at reading a recipes but then realise there is no point in cooking it because unfortunately the AP just wants almost liquid food that is bland and takes little effort to eat. The downside to this is that I am losing all interest in cooking. I slump into disinterest and end up having a pizza and just buy cottage pie or something in lots of sauce for the AP. In all fairness she will eat a Chinese meal but only the sweet and sour or chicken with lemon sauce. The AP does not really like rice and pasta is preferred from a tin, she will go into raptures over a roast dinner with lots of gravy. Fish is treated with great suspicion unless it is trapped in a fat absorbing batter served with chips. I sometimes think that I could make a ton of lemon sauce and pour it over any dish I make, add extra lemon, a deluge of vinegar and salt and she would love it. You may think I am exaggerating but far from it, the real truth is worse and what I have just written is a tiny bit of the real situation.

I need to find a way of solving this problem that doesn’t always mean a ready meal for the AP then cooking something different for the LSO and myself. Ready meals are ok to a point but in fact the AP likes to pretend she eats like we do and objects to having a different meal even though she probably prefers it. It really is a case of lose lose for me.

I think what I really need is a personal chef as well as a personal trainer. Oh well, since there is no chance of either situation occurring I guess it is back to the dieting books, I need to cut carbs and be strong about the meals for the AP.

 

 

The need to be positive.

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I woke up this morning to another grey day and realised how much we need sunlight in our lives. The great greyness seems to seep into our very bones, our hearts and our minds and if, like us, you are experiencing a low point in life it is hard to fight off this enveloping yet invisible shroud. But fight it we must.

My lovely Goddaughter sent us a video of our little Minnow that she had taken almost 12 years ago and although watching it brought tears to our eyes it also made us smile. It also made me think of the importance of humour and light in our lives.

I remember all those corny old songs from decades ago such as ‘You are the sunshine of my life’, sung by Stevie Wonder,’I’ll follow the sun’ from the Beatles, ‘Follow the sun from Keep Searching’ by Del Shannon, (my age is showing here), ‘The warmth of the sun’ by the Beach Boys and how could I almost forget the Walker Brothers ‘The sun ain’t gonna shine anymore’. I am sure there are hundreds more and they all illustrate the importance of a ray of sunshine in life and how it can lift the spirits. It is all too easy to sink into a well of sadness and self pity which becomes all encompassing.

Humour is a form of sunshine and we certainly need to get that back in our lives. We have no control over the weather but we can do something positive about how we deal with our situation. The AP continues to sail onwards getting dottier by the day but at least this is a more acceptable side of her nature than the alter ego that pops out every now and then like a grey monster and snarls at us for no apparent reason. Mind you I won’t hold my breath, the nasty side of her nature is never far from the surface.

 

Obituary to a very special small terrier.

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Twelve years ago almost to the day we took on a small, boney and awkward but adorable Jack Russell Terrier who had not had the best start in life having been rejected by her mother. The LSO called her Minnow. I can remember being quite horrified as I had only just retired three months earlier, the LSO was still at work and our daughter was getting married the following month. We also had a Jack Russell Border Terrier cross called Rufus who loved people and children but hated ALL animals.

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I had been rejoicing in my new found freedom after thirty five years of work. Well that state of euphoria certainly came to an abrupt end as we tried to find a way to make these two dogs accepting of each other. The house was like a battleground but after many months of special training for dysfunctional dogs for Rufus with The Walkabout Group we succeeded. From that point on the two dogs became inseparable until Rufus died at the ripe old age of seventeen and a half. Almost six years ago we re-homed a five year old Jack Russell called Barney whom Minnow wasn’t hugely keen on to begin with but in a short time our sweet little angular Minnow and the rather stocky but benign Barney became partners in crime.

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Sadly, today, that partnership came to an end. Dear little Minnow had developed several invasive cancers, the quality of her life was utterly compromised, nothing could be done and we had to make the unbearable decision to let her gently slip away.

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Minnow had filled a huge space in our lives, the lives of our children and also the AP’s, she too is upset at the loss. Minnow had been our constant companion for twelve years and the LSO worked out that he had covered more than seventeen thousand miles walking her every day. She had never been ill until the very end.

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The LSO and I are feeling a bit lost without her and the tears keep flowing. She was a lovely, special little dog and will be remembered with love and affection. Yet, I know we will have another dog despite knowing the pain of losing them. The upside is the unconditional love, the fierce loyalty and the companionship they give you during their short lives.