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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
But sadly the AP continues to sail onwards and the old ways and attitudes are still as prevalent now as they were last year. Someone asked during our New Year’s Day lunch if I had made any resolutions for the new year and my response was a most definite and resounding ‘no’.
There can be no point in any because nothing will change until we are no longer burdened with the task of looking after the AP and that despite her advanced years does not look imminent. It’s a really depressing thought but sadly the truth.
We decided two years ago that if we had to be trapped in our home at least we can make it a lovely place to live in so rather than save money we have planned a series of renovations. First off it was the complete and much needed redesigning and renewing of the kitchen, then we redecorated four of the bedrooms followed by the living room, that completed we are more than half way through the refit of the utility room. All is looking good and in April, when the AP goes to Scotland to stay with my cousin and his wife for a month, we are putting in a boiler house complete with new oil boiler, a water tank and a pump to have the pleasure of some water pressure and a decent shower. The month of May will bring the redecoration of the hall, landing and stairs although the carpet replacement will have to wait a while. All this is costing a great deal but it will be worth it.
The AP is somewhat bemused by our activity but doesn’t really want to know because she fears it may cost her some money. Although on the other hand, she is curious enough to want to know just how much we are spending on everything. We don’t feel it’s any of her business and equally we prefer not to have her financial input as we are then beholden and reminded, when it suits her, about any small amount she has given us. Once again the problem lies with how many times we are expected to say thank you, a word that has disappeared from her vocabulary. We decided some time ago that the best way to deal with her attitude is to remain fiercely independent and to do our own thing as much as we possibly can.
On that final note and despite my opening paragraph we WILL be going out on the odd evening or two and on our own so I guess I have made one resolution for this year.
Well Christmas is over and it was a great occasion, much enjoyed by the LSO and myself. Having so many people around watered down the AP and gave us a much needed breathing space. But unfortunately like everything to do with the AP, the peace never lasts.
Her latest idea really doesn’t bear thinking about. She wants to cook for my cousin and his wife when she goes to stay with them in April. How she will do this I cannot imagine as she cannot see, is close to 100 years old, arthritic, hard of hearing, cannot stand for long without some support and hasn’t cooked properly for many years. She is an absolute liability in the kitchen and the thought of her blindly wielding a knife is horrendous. Even before she came here four years ago she was opening tins of soup as a culinary experience. She will also be in a strange kitchen with no idea where anything is kept. On top of all this she expects me to supply the recipes and also some of the ingredients. One necessity the AP wants to take up with her are tins of creamed mushrooms which apparently cannot be bought in Scotland which I find quite strange. I feel extremely sorry for my cousin, do I warn them or is it better to let them deal with the situation as and if it arises? It is all rather insulting really as the unsaid implication is that my cousin’s wife cannot cook and the AP can do better. But whatever the outcome the AP will not be cooking in my kitchen.
I wonder what will pop out next from the mixing pot that has become her brain. It’s astonishing that she has the idea that she can carry on as if she is twenty years younger and very frustrating for us because when things inevitably go wrong, her response is to lash out. She managed to wreck a perfectly pleasant evening out last night, picking at food with her fingers in a restaurant is not a good look. Snapping unpleasantly at me when I moved a plate to prevent food dropping onto to the table. Also pretending to read the menu whilst flashing her magnifying light in everyone’s eyes. The AP insisted some weeks back that she needed new reading glasses so appointments were made and attended resulting in a pair of spectacles that apparently do help or did in the opticians but we don’t seem to use them. But that is another issue. After some deliberation the AP decided to have what she nearly always has, a small portion fish and chips with lots of lemon, vinegar and salt and no vegetables. Somehow despite having well over the recommended daily amount of salt, the AP sails onwards with blood pressure someone half her age would love to have.
Her continued inability to accept her limitations is extremely frustrating for us and to add insult to injury she is utterly graceless.
Roll on April.
Living with someone as old as the AP really is like existing in an alternative reality. We are servants in our own home, fetching, carrying and delivering. The AP has no sense of time anymore and just expects things to happen and seems surprised that there are times when we can’t do her bidding.
The Christmas card saga continues as she decides that she must send some as ones to her roll in. We did try to motivate her in November, knowing how long they take her and yes, I could volunteer to do them. I don’t for one very good reason, it is good for her to make an effort especially now that she has new reading glasses that have improved her ability to see the written word. It all helps to keep the brain active although I do sometimes wonder what the point is. She decided that we (that is the royal ‘We’ ) had to buy chocolate for the cupboard in the corner of the kitchen. Why? I ask. The answer is so that there is something for her grandchildren when they come at Christmas. The grandchildren are all grown up now and more than capable of buying their own chocolate and in fact we are spending Christmas Day with them but not here. The AP seemed to have forgotten this and then looked puzzled when I explained that it really wasn’t necessary. Some days she seems very on the ball but I have come to the conclusion that it is just a lucky coincidence when that happens because it doesn’t last. She is behaving herself at the moment and hasn’t been so abrasive or unpleasant and I just hope writing this isn’t casting the runes.
The LSO and I are looking forward to Christmas and to spending time with our family. It will be such a breath of fresh air and normality. Normality as we knew it, vanished nearly four years ago and I am hugely grateful to the close friends and family members who have helped us to keep our heads above water and to keep our sanity.
I need a padded room where I can hide and bang my head against the wall. Nothing we ever do is good enough and all of the AP’s frustrations are taken out on us and me in particular. I am horrified at my own feelings. I really don’t like this woman who lives with us and really do not want her under our roof.
We are back to the annual Christmas card farce where we are to blame for not sending cards to her friends for whom we have no addresses. The fact that we include her on our cards to the relevant people seems to just sail past her. Actually I think unless it directly impacts on her’ most things ‘sail’ past. The AP’s response is that SHE has the addresses said, I may add, with an overload of sarcasm. So what really is her problem? Truth be told she doesn’t want to make the effort. Her sight is very poor but no worse than last year when she did her own cards that I addressed the envelopes for and she does have new reading glasses that apparently have made a difference. Why does she feel the need to send these cards, everyone would understand the problem. The truth is that she doesn’t send them for the recipient, only for herself. everything is a reflection of self. The me-me complex is all encompassing. Remember ME, alway ME.
I know two blacks don’t make a white etc. but I really have had enough of her. She has done nothing for my self esteem or my peace of mind.
The sympathy expressed when my brother died has inevitably all but gone and she is feeling sorry for herself. The world no longer revolves around her. When asked by others how she is we have the pathetic little voice and “I am coping, some good days and some bad days, up and down but (brave little voice moment) I am getting there.” I sometimes wonder where ‘there’ is, sadly not miles from here. This is usually followed by what an awful year it has been. It doesn’t seem to occur to her that it is the LSO and I who have had to cope with what the year has thrown at us as well as deal with the AP, her multitude of appointments, her vindictiveness and selfishness as well as her innate snobbery and the ridiculous vanity.
But I refuse to wallow in self pity and I am aware that my words seem at times harsh but we must try and get a semblance of normality back into our lives. I desperately miss the fact that I cannot talk to my brother but life isn’t always fair and we were lucky to have had so much quality contact during the last 18 months.
I also am aware that it will not be easy but 2018 will be and must be a new year in more ways than one.
Unfortunately not the brink of freedom, I think that the honeymoon time after the great revelation event is possibly coming to an end. I sincerely hope not because the inevitable upheaval will be enormous and the AP will HAVE to go into a home.
I really cannot deal with too many of her nasty little asides. The latest one was made after a conversation she had with cousin George who, god bless the man, had said after her 100th birthday which is the end of April she could go back up to Scotland with them. I did tell her that she would be up there anyway during April as we are replacing our boiler system and will be without water for some of that time but by all means do go up to bonny Scotland again, we would not mind at all. Her response was a touch of the old vinegar. ‘Well you would say that wouldn’t you.’ Interesting reply to a straight comment and why shouldn’t I say it. I would be lying if I expressed regret at having the chance of some freedom, some personal space and some privacy.
I have no problem at all with the AP being more independent and just wish she would stop constantly looking for trouble, comments like ‘well, you will be pleased to know I am going up to my room now’ don’t help her cause at all. There are signs that she thinks her place here is safe now that she has agreed to a personal alarm but that is far, far from the truth. I do understand that she needs reassurance that she is wanted, don’t we all, but her attitude towards us doesn’t help to engender love and devotion.
I may need to leave the list of suitable care homes that we have found in a prominent position, she is quite prone to having a nose through our paperwork using the excuse that she thought there might be something in there for her. The fact that we always put anything for her where she sits seems to pass her by. But then most things do unless they primarily concern her. She might just be needing a timely reminder that being pleasant costs nothing, just a teeny bit of effort.
Well, we’ll see. I don’t need one more iota of stress this year and nor does the LSO. Just to add an extra worry to our lives our oldest, at twelve years and much loved, Jack Russell has developed a strange cough and seems to have trouble breathing at times. The vet thinks her trachea may be collapsing but wants to X-Ray her to find out. We are not holding our breath that the news will be good.
Indeed we do at times seem to be living in an echo valley or a vale of repetition, constantly having to repeat what we say to the AP.
The AP’s short term memory is getting worse except where her money is concerned that is and then we manage a pretty good recall. She loves a bit of a flutter on the lottery and winnings are remembered with extreme accuracy although adding up can become a bit of a challenge. Astonishing really because for anything else, appointments, places we’ve visited and even people just met are forgotten almost immediately or the relevant information is not even absorbed in the first place. Stories become jumbled and information is relayed back to us in a completely random and often wrong format.
The LSO and I have to repeat everything at least twice for every appointment and every place we have visited.
The AP is also a real snooker groupie which is a good thing from several points of view. It does give her something to watch that she is genuinely interested in, albeit very close to the TV screen, but it also forces her to concentrate. We then get her to tell us what has happened during the sessions thus hopefully enforcing the learning process. It works only to a point because she does rather get stuck with the players who have been around for a number of years and have become her favourites to watch. So comments are often the same content as the day before or even the championship before.
A further odd brain fart to add to the echo effect is the satellite delay syndrome. The AP will be sitting quietly with a conversation going on around her and when that has finished she will ask the question that the conversation was about as if it had never happened. Or if someone has answered a question she will repeat the answer as if no-one had replied but slightly later.
The old grey matter and how it functions is a mystery and obviously as we age it becomes even more of a mystery. I read somewhere that we start going downhill mentally from our fifties onwards, and that to keep as many as our little grey cells as possible we need to exercise regularly both mentally and physically, eat a sensible Mediterranean-type diet and keep the weight down. EEEEK! I do need to lose weight and exercise more but the diet is ok as long as I don’t drink too much wine. Mind you I hadn’t noticed that being the case in Spain, France or Italy; they love their wine, am I missing something here?