This is the post excerpt.
About four 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.
It has finally arrived, Spring has landed with a truly incredible burst of sunshine and warmth typically just as the schools go back for the Summer term. After weeks and weeks of grey, wet and thoroughly depressing weather it is a real pleasure to wake up to clear blue skies. The land has also sprung into action with blossom bursting out all over and the fields are full of tractors and massive pieces of farming equipment sowing and planting at speed.
We are halfway through our break from the AP and the LSO and myself are enjoying our freedom despite the pressure put on us by the new boiler work. Although the diet is not exactly on hold it is a bit intermittent. As well as eating out we have found it difficult to deal with the lack of movement on the planned improvement. It has finally got underway beginning over a week late and stuttered along for the first few days as the builder fitted in other jobs that had also been held up by the bad weather as well as his dental appointments. It is just not true that doing this keeps the clients happy and we were beginning to get increasingly upset by the delays and the lack of action. I eat when stressed. I know it’s all a bit pathetic really but sadly true but I will get my act together again.
Hopefully the small building will be completed by the weekend and the new boiler and tanks should be in place and up and running by the end of next week. Well, that is in an ideal world which unfortunately is not inhabited by builders it would seem.
Never mind, at least for another two weeks we can still enjoy having our personal space back, eating what we enjoy and doing things spontaneously.
The sunshine? That’s just a bonus.
…..you don’t always see them but you know they are always there. This rather lovely statement was given to me earlier this week as a gift to hang in my studio and the best thing of all about it is that the friend who gave it to me really means it.
Our eighty year old farmer friend was also waxing lyrically the other day and saying how important friends are and when you find someone to love hang on to them because they are extremely precious. All wise words and all true. The world would be a much emptier and lonely place without friends. Friends care for you and accept you for what you are; they are not critical or manipulative but are there when you need them. I had always considered the AP a friend before she came to live with us but that feeling has sadly long gone, driven away by her selfish determination to dominate us. She constantly tries to be in charge when in fact she is here as a guest and should have more respect for us and the fact we have put our lives on hold to look after her.
The house is a pleasure to be in at the moment and the LSO and I are enjoying being able to do what we want and eat what we like and it’s a great feeling but our planned boiler replacement is still delayed because of our awful weather and that is worrying. We only have a small window of opportunity to work in and that is gradually becoming eroded. A friend is coming to stay in ten days time and I can see us boiling water for washing and if the weather doesn’t improve, huddling around the wood burner to keep warm. I think I heard the LSO muttering that we need to put the summer weight duvet on but that might not be such a good idea at the moment.
My cheery statement that Spring is in the air in a previous blog seems to have been in part a bit hopeful. Still, despite the weather I am thoroughly enjoying our short spell of freedom.
Breathe in, breathe out, slowly and steadily clear the mind of troublesome feelings. An activity I need to follow with some conviction because I can feel the fog is closing in again.
Having experienced a wonderful sense of freedom last week when we handed the AP over to my cousin and his wife, I now am suffering from a real knot of anxiousness. I woke up last night and cried for no apparent reason and I can only surmise that having jumped, be it briefly off the treadmill, everything that has happened over the last year is catching up with me.
We had planned to use the early part of our month of release having a new boiler installed but that, due to the bad weather has been put back and our window of opportunity is getting very narrow. It has also meant we have had to alter and change other plans which has helped to create an intense feeling of irritation and a kind of helplessness because it is out of our control. The month is slipping away and we are not achieving what we had hoped to. This is all adding to my sense of angst which is all encompassing and just to add to it all the weather is dull, grey and damp again. Even the two terriers seem affected by the weather; it really can’t be much fun for them trundling around in the cold through the mud and puddles.
One small light on the horizon is that despite the Easter revelries I have not lost any weight but equally I have not gained any so I am back on track again. My next day of fasting is Friday but I have planned some sensible and low calorie, low carb meals between now and then.
In the meanwhile I will practice slowly breathing in, breathing out, relaxing the shoulders and letting my mind drift on a sea of calm. That is until a dog barks!
I totally agree with that sentiment but do also realise that it is sometimes an impossibility because life just isn’t that straightforward. Oh that it was!
The AP is now safely delivered to my cousin and his wife in Scotland and the LSO and I are enjoying a break from the crippling routine that looking after the AP has forced upon us. We have a really busy month in front of us but can plan and do things without any restrictions and it is a most liberating feeling.
Waking up in the morning is a real pleasure and there is a lightness in the air. Sadly, it is a fact that the AP’s presence is like a constant dark shadow permeating the whole house. It really should never have been this way but our constant battle to stop her trying to rule our lives, to dominate and manipulate us is responsible for it all. Even when out with others every bit of conversation is always turned round to be about herself and I guess that like a small child or a teenager the AP has become the centre of her own universe and just wants everything and everybody to satellite around her. Unfortunately she wants to include us in her claustrophobic environment and seems unable to comprehend that we have some life to live yet. She has had a good long life and is extremely lucky to be so well looked after but why is she unable to accept all this with some grace? I doubt I will ever have the answer or a solution to the problem other than when inevitably, the AP finally departs.
But with four weeks of unbridled freedom in front of us we are determined to make the most of the time. I had almost forgotten how much I loved living here but fortunately my enjoyment has not been destroyed, just buried. I can plan my meals with pleasure and hopefully keep losing weight too without the feeling that my every move is being scrutinised.
Spring is definitely in the air in every sense of the word.
Such a sweet sounding word for me and for the LSO. Tomorrow we begin our month of liberty, release and the right to do what we want, when we want to do it. It seems to have been a long time arriving and latterly the time has not passed quickly but I know the coming month will.
The AP has not been quite so vociferous about her month in Scotland as she has been in previous years but that is because we have taken no notice of the rather unpleasant little asides that get muttered at intervals. Things like ‘you’ll be glad to have me out of your hair’ or ‘it’s difficult to pack for a whole month’ as if my cousin and his wife don’t have a washing machine and it’s not as if this is the first time she has been there either. We have been treated like servants with a continual string of demands made without much in the way of please and thank you and although I would like to think that it is just a foible of old age I know in my heart that it is very much how she now thinks of us.
Sad but I suppose inevitable. The AP always hated sarcasm and has always said in the past that it is the lowest form of wit but now she resorts to it as a way to get at us, thinking it clever but it only comes over as hurtful. Last week it was the turn of the LSO who had gone to the pharmacy to collect some hearing aid batteries for the AP. He managed to get a month’s supply and when told, the AP did say thank you but followed it up with ‘Oh, and you managed it all on your own then?’ said in a silly little voice. The one that is used when seeing chips on the plate, ‘oh goodie, chippies’. Fortunately the LSO didn’t retaliate.
It’s all so trivial really but when you live with this constant battering it’s hard to see things clearly and I am only too aware that the LSO and I desperately need this break if only to recharge the batteries ready for the month following our much needed breathing space.
The beginning of May will be the celebration of the AP’s 100 years. The LSO and I will become chief cooks, bottle washers, bed makers, chauffeurs and general dogsbodies whilst watching the AP gushing over everyone and playing the grand old dame for the benefit of the audience. We know that the minute everything has settled back to normal the AP we know and tolerate will return, pompous, vain, snobbish and capable of being extremely unpleasant.
Oh well, we will just have to smile sweetly and open another bottle!
Twenty-four hours to go to liberation.
A friend asked me how I was today and I replied that I was fine but that isn’t quite the truth. I am OK but only just, I am hanging on by a thread emotionally and desperately in need of some down time. It is approaching but I find myself trying not to wish the time away or dwelling too much on past happenings because I know nothing can change any of these events and in particular those of the last twelve months.
It has been a difficult and at times heartbreaking year but it is important to keep things firmly in perspective. I am not someone given to weeping and wailing publicly but that doesn’t mean I am cold hearted or don’t care but I have found that the emotional battering of the last months has caused me to put up barriers and lock away my feelings in order to mentally survive. We are all different in our reactions to situations and how we deal with emotional stress.
One thing I do know and what this year has taught me and made me understand is that we all must live for the moment, put the past back where it belongs, firmly in the past, look to the future with a sense of expectancy and pleasure as much as is possible. To also really appreciate in every sense of the word, what we have now, at this very moment because we have no idea what the future holds.
The LSO and I have our month of freedom approaching and we need to enjoy every moment of our time together doing what we want, when we want and that, in itself, will be a novel experience. The AP will have a ball in Scotland with my cousin and his wife and will be coming back for her birthday party. But in that interim time we must all be positive and enjoy what we have.
Nine days to go.
It’s interesting what people say to you when you tell them you look after your mother who is soon to be one hundred years old. Some say you are doing a wonderful job, others understand how hard it is or just say that they couldn’t do it and there are those who make the comment that we must not have thought she would live that long when we took on the task.
Well, the LSO and I did expect the AP to live this long and in the beginning were happy that she probably would given that she is incredibly well looked after. What we didn’t expect was that the person we thought was sweet and lovely has turned out to be difficult, domineering, demanding and at times extremely unpleasant. Even being trapped by the circumstances would have been more acceptable if this person we no longer know had been who we thought she was. That is a rather convoluted statement but it is what the situation has become.
The AP appears to have little regard for us and can be unbelievably rude, making snide and very nasty comments about others as well as about us. We can only put this down to the fact that the brain is deteriorating and the better thought patterns are being buried or destroyed. Certainly as the time approaches for her to go North she is becoming more and more obtuse and changeable, pleasant one minute, unpleasant the next.
The LSO says she is making a point, but what point? It is completely lost on me and I refuse to allow her to rule my actions or my thoughts because that will not be good for me or for the LSO. I actually think she resents him, partly because she thinks she could tell me what to do if he wasn’t here but also because he is more volatile in his temperament than I am therefore more unpredictable. I need a quiet life to survive; I don’t like confrontation but will react if pushed hard enough. In truth, I realised that when the LSO was so very ill last year that had the unthinkable occurred the first thing I would do would be to arrange a care home for the AP and sell the house. There is absolutely no way that I could survive living with the her on my own and that became patently obvious when the LSO was in hospital. He is a great buffer, thank goodness.
Well it’s only twelve days to her departure and the beginning of our month of freedom and a brief return of our personal space so it is just a matter of weathering less than two more weeks of the AP.