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.
We really do keep trying to not become bitter and twisted but it is an uphill struggle. AP is unreasonable and childish and reacts without thinking. Her old colleague, who is actually younger than us, has departed today and I suspect AP is exhausted having talked non-stop for three days and only nodding off a couple of times. The ex colleague was given her life history in a rather garbled and roundabout way over the three days and she did well to withstand the onslaught even managing to get the odd word in now and again. Now she has gone we are back to the ‘I know” attitude in a blink without actually knowing anything of course. I thought it might have taken a day or two but no such luck.
So it’s back to bed changing, sheet and towel washing before the next arrivals and the next onslaught of planning, shopping and cooking. Oh, and not to forget the rafts of washing up and cleaning up. I really should be a shadow of my former self but it just doesn’t work like that sadly.
At least the next visitors include the grandchildren and are our choice.
Respite – meaning among many other things, pause, break, relief, intermission, relaxation, halt, reprieve, breather, let-up. This is something we get little of for 10 months plus of the year. I did think that having AP’s old colleague here would give us one or some of the above but this is not the case.
Decided yesterday to run them in to main city near us to visit the cathedral and have a lunch there. It seemed a good plan to give them time together and also to be doing something other than occupying the living room all day, that is except when being served the requisite three meals a day. It worked for them but it meant I had to drive for 2 hours in total to have 3 hours to clear a multitude of jobs before collecting them again. Was any thanks forthcoming from AP – no, only the comment that I had arrived back spot on time to pick them up. So not only am I chief cook as husband is chief clearer and bottle washer I am now a chauffeur, all unpaid of course.
Regret – meaning among many things, be sorry, to wish you had not done, distressed, rue, bemoan, bemoan, weep. The latter is seldom far away.
Must don my cap and apron and serve lunch.
Just keep on trying to be good and to be patient, that seems to be the daily mantra and hopefully if we repeat it enough we might manage to keep things on a relatively even keel. It really is difficult especially when you feel permanently on edge in the presence of the AP. It is not a good plan to analyse these feelings but sometimes you have to try to understand what is happening. The AP is not a bad person and for some of the time she does try hard to be a nice rather dotty old lady but unfortunately the halo slips and nasty little asides come out. These are often said to others sometimes in front of us but more often behind our backs. She has also become hyper-critical. Comments about awful hair styles, unattractive voices or peoples shapes – ‘hasn’t so and so put on weight’ is always a favourite and is inevitably a sly dig at me. No, I am not paranoid but the last three years of being told what I should do about my weight has made me very, very wary.
I do need to lose weight but I cannot face cooking and eating separate meals. I also cannot let her see me do it as AP then wants the same. AP cannot afford any weight loss and would become ill if she ate less than she already does. It is important for all of us that she remains as active and as fit as possible for as long as possible. The regime she has with us has definitely done her good but my inactivity and loss of motivation has increased my weight and created other problems that are directly stress related. There is nothing easy about taking on the care of an elderly parent no matter how fit they may be. AP is remarkably well for her age even if a little doddery but some parts of her personality have gone only to expose the less attractive sides to her nature.
At the moment she has a colleague from her working days staying here with us, they are sitting in the spider infested summerhouse – desperate days. The summerhouse is a lovely space but desperately needs a good clean out, unfortunately my husbands illness this year has put that along with other jobs, on hold. It’s a great place to sit in the evenings especially when enjoying a glass or two of wine.
This wonderful foggy picture illustrates perfectly how hard it is to literally lose ones way.
Another week passes by and this time it has been relatively peaceful. Only a few snipes from the Ageing Person (from now on to be referred to as AP) to break the calm. The worst was the incident of the mislaid sunglasses. We all do this so no drama you would think but no, in this case serious accusations are made that the long suffering husband has deliberately moved them. He actually found them for her where she had left them on the table next to where she sits. Apparently she had looked there and couldn’t see them! That could be a result of poor sight owing to ARMD but AP was absolutely insistent that he had hidden them from her. Although trivial such unreasonable statements cause harm and add to the feeling of being continually besieged and trapped.
We need to challenge our own reactions to these situations which are really of no consequence but they can and do grow out of proportion. We are in danger of disliking this person who lives in our space.
Fortunately we have a busy time ahead and in the midst of this an old colleague of AP’s is coming to stay for a few days which should stem the sniping for a little while at least and also allow us to find a mental space to repair and order our thoughts and feelings.
I must also look at how I can become motivated about losing some weight. It’s so easy to know what to do but an entirely different kettle of fish to do it!
Growing around an old apple tree in the orchard are these wonderful wild blackberries. They have made the most luscious jam which just begged for fresh homemade buttermilk scones and of course, clotted cream. I decided to make some despite the comment that would follow……..and it did.
My mother just cannot resist it and sure enough having thoroughly enjoyed the scone with jam and cream came the inevitable comment, “well these will put weight on”. the scones are tiny and featherlight and yes, if you ate a few with jam and clotted cream they certainly wouldn’t help a weight loss. I think the only answer is to live on dust!
But I cannot let this get me down. I have always gained so much pleasure from cooking and living here in the country I have a wonderful selection of produce to choose from especially during these summer months when we are surrounded by an abundance of good things. Unfortunately at the moment I cook when I am bored and being so trapped I am bored a great deal. In the beginning it was ok and life carried on to a point but as the months have passed we are being ground down with the sheer relentlessness of the timetable we now have to follow.
A song from Pink Floyd The Wall (1979). That was the year our son was born and it all seems such a long time ago, another world, another lifetime. Even photographs of us then look like different people, it’s uncanny and a bit spooky. Did we really change so much?
I have come to the conclusion that as we grow older our lives divide and alter. The years the children were small passed in a blur as we were so busy but now I find myself wishing the time away which was something I vowed never to do. When I woke up to my 50th birthday I was struck by the realisation that I had probably lived longer than I had left. In the beginning the first 7 years of retirement were a joy but that changed with the arrival of my mother. It was not supposed to be like this and now 21 years on from that turning 50 revelation I need to look carefully at everything and find a way of coping with the frustration of having no freedom, no peace of mind, no personal space and little relief from this relentless misery that life is becoming. If I don’t sort out my weight problem I doubt I will live to 99 years of age so I need to make some life changing decisions soon.
It is impossible to talk to my mother to try and discuss a situation, she doesn’t seem to know how to listen, gets everything wrong and talks over us. She will never admit she is wrong and spends her time asking inane questions about nothing relevant. If she doesn’t know something she makes up something to fill the space. She has become self centred, rude and graceless with us but will gush embarrassingly over visitors, trying to play the dear sweet little old lady. This is so hypocritical that we feel revolted by the charade. I keep making a mental note to not become like this but maybe if we were to live to such a grand age we would also be the same.
It would be easier if my mother was not so aggressive and defensive. Her presence is that of a spectre and both my husband and I are becoming resentful of this rather unpleasant person living in our home. Her ‘I know’ attitude is a pain especially when she blatantly doesn’t know.
If anybody out there has any viable solutions I would love to hear them.
Well a week on and various attempts to try harder have failed miserably; not failed because anything was arranged badly just unforeseen situations that have caused some distress. Still I decided that I must persevere with lightening the atmosphere despite being under the weather and on antibiotics. It was a little like a suicide mission! I am now accused of speaking a different language to my difficult ageing parent who being deaf often gets things wrong and that was the result of an attempt to have a conversation.
Yesterday she has decided that vanity to the fore, (denied of course) that she needs to lose weight and that means smaller meals. I should add at this point that she is not even vaguely fat, that territory is mine and mine alone. My weight also causes problems because she is not allowed to talk about it but constantly finds sneaky ways of mentioning it. I am quite aware that I have a weight problem and part of that is caused by the stress of looking after her but that is another issue to be discussed later. Her meals are already small but apparently these cause bloat. I explained that it would be better to look at food content as that is more likely to cause bloat than the small quantities consumed. I was told that was nonsense. Unsuspecting and long suffering husband comes into the conversation by agreeing that food is usually the culprit. The response to this was an astonishing attack that “she was not going to speak to him as he always sides with her.” I mention the small quantity of carefully considered meals prepared at home that over the last 3 years have helped to keep her fit, well and active and now pre-diabetic and not diabetic because when we go out the meal of choice is nearly always fish in batter with chips. This doesn’t apparently cause bloat or put weight on. The conversation did not end well.
Well the atmosphere is not at all lightened and I am trying hard not to wish my life away.