A couple of blogs ago I mentioned that our eldest grandson who at the age of ten is representing his area in the Independent Schools Association athletics. The LSO and I are going to support him but it involves a huge amount of organisation to ensure the AP is looked after.
The drive down to the South East from Norfolk gave me a good deal of thinking time about the situation that the LSO and I have found ourselves in and the difficulties we have encountered from taking on the care of the AP. I made several decisions about many things and not least was how to cope with her inability to accept her shortcomings with some grace.
Last night I told her what was happening next Tuesday which I knew would cause the screwed up face because she feels she is being off loaded onto people. The fact they are happy to help seems to completely pass her by and her reactions are totally self, self, self.
It was an opportunity for me to tick one of the items on my ‘thinking list’, to talk to her about her inability to really look after herself. Her reaction was definitely lacking in grace and what I expected, a screwed up face and I was told not to say things like that. I understand the reaction but at a hundred years old, arthritic, blind, deaf and with short term memory loss it does mean there are limitations to what she can do and for how long she can be left on her own. I explained that none of us are getting any younger and we too have had to accept that there are some things we cannot deal with anymore. This applies particularly to the LSO who has never really been the same having been so very ill last year. I also pointed out to the AP that should an emergency arise suddenly, we would need to consider respite care for her.
OK, that didn’t go down well. The response was that my seventy-eight year old cousin would drive down for her and miraculously spirit her off to bonny Scotland, a mere twelve to fourteen hour round trip. The fact they may well have their own responsibilities or even, lucky people, be on holiday never occurred to her and when I challenged her on that she said she would get a taxi. If it wasn’t so ridiculous and self-centred it would be laughable. She did stomp off to bed soon after this chat making me realise once again how difficult she makes things for us.
Well at last the seed is sown and perhaps next time I tell the AP the LSO and I are out for the day and she will be looked after elsewhere, she won’t screw up her face. But in the meantime we need to look into respite care or the possibility of a carer coming to the house.
Always in life there is are imaginary lines that are there in everything we do. The lines has numerous of functions, some are warnings but sometimes they can encourage development. So which line am I standing in front of today?
Yesterday evening was a fine example of the AP dominating the conversation all evening with endless stories of the past. the LSO and I have heard them many times and tend to turn off to them. Each time they get a bit more muddled and embellished becoming a stream of endless drivel. The AP managed to have an inevitable dig at me but only succeeded in making herself look silly and causing me to mentally back off even further.
At the moment she is pretending to our visitor that she can see but because I attend all her sight tests I know exactly what the AP can and cannot see. I had to finally leave the room especially when a comment was made about wonderful teachers who make a difference to their students. She then went into a long diatribe about a teacher ninety years ago who apparently also taught my cousin and remembered my mother as this hugely clever girl. I suppose we all feel the need to blow our own trumpets occasionally. The AP seems to have chosen to forget that I had been a teacher for thirty five years and I was good at my job. It’s difficult to know whether she means to demean me or is just becoming plain daft. I would prefer to think the latter but sadly when I hear her conversing with people I realise that she still possesses some native cunning that manifests itself in a sly nastiness. It is hard to understand my mother’s desire for superiority, why is it that she cannot accept her own short comings? Why can she not appreciate what she has instead of making our lives a misery?
I guess the line I am crossing at the moment is one of disinterest and detachment and sadly I am heading towards thoroughly disliking the AP. I am finding it hugely difficult to make an effort with her and am instead retreating into my shell which I know is not the right solution to the problem. I can but hope that crossing this particular line will help me to survive, I feel I am drowning in a never-ending sea of greyness. I am mentally struggling to find a positive approach when every bit of my being is crying out for a release from this state of imprisonment.
I am told there is a light at the end of the tunnel but at the moment it feels like it is the train coming towards me and if it isn’t that, it is a very, very long tunnel.
Having the AP living with us is a real trial now. I find myself not wanting to spend any time with her because conversations are so stilted and surreal and she is also trying to be such a smart arse that it is embarrassing . She is regressing more and more and yesterday was a fine example of this. We had visitors staying , a friend of hers, about our age who has become a friend of ours too and our nephew who was on a flying visit. After the initial greetings and a bit of small talk the AP was no longer the centre of attention so she became rude and belligerent with me when I suggested she join them in the garden. ‘Why should I? ‘ was the response in an aggressive tone of voice. ‘Only a suggestion’ I replied to be huffed at and told they would be talking. ‘It’s what people do when they meet but you must do what you want’. After a stomp around the hall the AP did go outside.
We are getting more and more of this petulant and rude behaviour but in some ways it is good for me because it hardens my resolve to not be bullied and makes me more determined to have some quality of life with the LSO. I do get irritated and feel a bit down at times but I am finding a growing sense of detachment that is protecting me from the terrible angst felt before but in truth it is still a constant source of negativity that doesn’t go away. Given the opportunity the AP will have a dig about me to others and I have no defence because these people only see the dear, sweet old lady not the day on day reality that the LSO and I put up with. I am sure I must appear to most of our visitors as a hard and sharp person but I cannot and will not let the AP dominate us ever again. The years of misery and emotional damage she has caused us cannot be changed but at least we can improve what is in the here and now. Sadly she is becoming quite unlovable.
We are arranging a day out soon without the AP to go and watch one of our grandsons competing at the ISA National Athletics Championships in Birmingham. I had the pleasure of seeing him run in the qualifying trials and was so delighted and proud when he won all three of his races.It is hugely important that the LSO witnesses his grandson compete and supports his efforts. Children grow up so quickly. We must not allow the AP to stop us having this pleasure in our lives and we are fortunate to have some friends who will help us on this occasion. It will be the screwed up face no doubt but it will be happening.
The dogs are a huge comfort as well as a distraction and the lovely Lucie continues to grow both in stature and personality. Dear Barney continues to plough his own furrow but is a lovely gentle old man looking a bit like a canine Terry Thomas now.
The AP could take some lessons from him, not I may add, to be a Terry Thomas lookalike.