To be objective.

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Yesterday, during a telephone call, a friend asked me how things were going for the LSO and myself. Although I refer to this person as a friend she actually knew the AP before me, meeting her about 16 years ago. The AP would have been about 84 years old then, still driving, active both physically and mentally and generally doing pretty well for her age. In retrospect I think my response was too honest. There is no way anyone can have any idea what we live with or what this person who lives with us has become unless, of course they have been down the same road or have stayed long enough to witness her manipulative ways and self interest.

The response I got was interesting and when looked at afterwards I realised that some things would have been best left unsaid, not strangely enough for them but for me and for the LSO. It was obvious that they think we exaggerate when in fact we tend to understate the problems. The AP can keep bluffing in the short term and appear to be what she always was but once they have gone the real person emerges. They only hear what they want to and because they all see so little of her or only communicate on the telephone, talk is of the past and any information given on present circumstances comes out very muddled later on. The AP can deal with the past, anything now or recent is forgotten, confused and mostly wrong and that is just a problem of old age. The LSO and I can cope with all that.

I guess in future I will limit my responses not that is, to pretend things are hunky-dory and going swimmingly but I do believe that for some they suffer an element of guilt that perhaps they didn’t do enough, or didn’t see what was coming. They don’t want to believe that the person they thought was sweet, intelligent and kind can also be devious, difficult and cruel especially to those closest to her.

They ask the questions but don’t really want to hear the answers. I have no doubt we are all guilty at one time or another of hiding behind a glass wall but for the LSO and myself the truth is not just out there but living with us.

It can make a world of difference.

 

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It is an interesting fact that it just takes a small gesture to alter your perspective on life. I was feeling particularly down about everything yesterday when a good friend rang with a suggestion. Nothing drastic just ‘had I tried the 5:2 diet’? Indeed I had and yes, it worked while I kept to it but unfortunately I found 500 calories on fast days an absolute no-no for me. Well it turns out that the author has changed it to 800 calories a day and that sounds very doable. Because I am unlikely to be going anywhere near a bookseller my lovely friend is sending me a copy of the book.

This one gesture made me feel one hundred percent better about life in general and a great deal more positive too.  Then the LSO went to buy compost and bought me some gorgeous amethyst coloured tulips. It may be cold and grey today but instead I do feel a hint of Spring may be in the air. A good frame of mind does make a difference when coping with the AP who muddles her way along causing chaos in her wake. It helps to bolsters me against the AP’s inevitable mood swings that can go from amenable one minute to a streak of vinegar the next.

She is being surprisingly reasonable at the moment and the only thing I can put it down to are the sheets left on the printer listing care homes in the area. Looking through things that are nothing to do with you is a dangerous occupation and with results very similar to the old adage of ‘eavesdroppers never hear any good of themselves’.

It makes a change to write in a more constructive way rather than having a carp although I do try to be as pragmatic as possible. Still, long may the present situation last although as I have said before, I won’t be holding my breath.

Think.

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Think. To employ one’s mind rationally and objectively in evaluating or dealing with a given situation. As a verb it means to have a conscious mind, to have some extent of reasoning and the ability to make rational decisions. To also consider something as a possible course of action as well as to invent or conceive something as in, have a plan. Probably the definition that most springs to mind for me is to have consideration or regard for someone, to think of others first. There is also the belief that something is true of someone or something as in ‘to think evil of the neighbours’ and there are many more.

There are the idioms too, such as, to think better of, to think fit, to think nothing of, to think twice. All this is assuming that the person doing the thinking has all their faculties intact.

Where is this going? Well the AP’s latest affectation is to use the word ‘think’ employing a sarcastic tone of voice when she cannot remember a word and substitutes some nonsense instead. This latest happening was during a discussion at the dinner table about the tennis that led on to her saying that ‘another one’ must be starting soon. Not sure what ‘another one’ was we asked and the response was a sarcastic ‘think’ what game is played with a ball and a stick. Well we could think (that word again) of quite a few and asked which game was she referring to? The screwed up face was the first response followed by ‘ you know perfectly well what I mean’. Of course I guessed it was the snooker the AP was referring to and she had forgotten the name temporarily but to try and imply that we were somehow in the wrong was just plain silly.

As a one off I could see the funny side but there appears to be a pattern emerging here. This morning I am preparing a second batch of marmalade when the AP bumbles into the kitchen. I decide to update her on some of our movements next week and ask her if she would like a particular friend for lunch next Thursday. She thought (that word again) that would be a good idea and would ask her today. After a bit of a conversation about the time she was being picked up she announced that she would ‘have to put the thing in the thing when she got back later’. This time I had no idea what the AP meant and ask what ‘thing was she putting in what thing’? Now that was foolish of me, the response was, yes you’ve guessed, ‘think’ said with the attitude of are you thick? It was Oscar Wilde who said ‘sarcasm is the lowest form of wit’ and he was not wrong. I’m not sure which is worse though the present use of ‘think’ or ‘joke’ when the AP has been truly insulting.

Unfortunately this morning I wasn’t amused and pointed out that I had no idea what she was talking about and not to to tell me to ‘think’ in that way. It could have been anything really, put something in the bin, put a teabag in a cup, put her water bottle in her bag, put her stick in the car when I realised what she probably meant was to put the dates for next week on her calendar.

These unpleasant outbursts are all part of the AP trying to manipulate and control us but it will no longer work.

I think the moral to this sad little tale is that The LSO and I should have ‘thought twice’ and to have weighed up things more carefully before making our decision four years ago. We should have thought about what we were doing in much greater depth before taking on such a huge responsibility.

Ah, the value of hindsight!

It lies just under the surface.

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A title that means a multitude of things to different people. Some will think of creatures lurking in the depths, others the rise, heralding a good summer’s evening fishing or even perhaps the irritation of eczema lying under the skin. For the LSO and I it is watching the AP and waiting for her innate nastiness which is never far away to ripple the surface and yes, it has started again. She is trying to dominate us, insisting things are done her way, making unnecessary demands and has returned to making snide and unpleasant remarks about the LSO, some just out of earshot. Today she was told by me again to stop being so unpleasant because it is completely out of order and also totally wrong.

The AP just can’t seem to help herself and doesn’t seem to understand that trying any attempt at divide and rule will only cause her trouble, I will not put up with it but, in truth, for us it creates yet another layer of stress and inner turmoil. It is difficult to relax in her company and there is no pleasure in going out with her, you never know when the next little smart arse comment will emerge. The AP has also added another ‘accent’ to her repertoire, along with the superior tones of all hallowed academe, the demanding ‘do this’ tone, the charming old lady gush, we now have a silly little girly voice which emerges at intervals and says things like ‘oh goody, chippies’ or ‘look a toot toot’. No, she is not suffering from dementia, she does forget things, gets situations mixed up but that is to be expected when you are close to a hundred years old. The problem seems to be that old age has stripped away most of the veneer of niceness and the AP can no longer be bothered to make the effort with us. She still does the show for others because she can manage in the short term.

But all of this is extremely hurtful for me, she is my mother and any attempt on her behalf to drive a wedge between the LSO and myself is despicable and really does prove that I don’t matter to her at all. As I said in an earlier blog we have been thoroughly used and if it hadn’t been for the LSO she would not be here now. She has become a very silly old woman but does need to be careful, even I have a breaking point and a care home could loom. I must put out the information again for her to find, I think the AP has forgotten the blow up last October and has become complacent but sadly the LSO and I haven’t because her nastiness and lies have left an indelible mark.

I do find myself wondering what I must have done in an earlier life to be living like this now, I just hope it was worth it.

 

 

Stream of unconsciousness.

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Well, the diet continues to stumble along and I’m not being hugely successful. I think I need a holiday preferably as far from the AP as I can get. I am discovering that her very presence seems to suck the life out of me and I don’t think it is much better for the LSO.

I feel completely useless at the moment and desperately in need of a change of lifestyle but every day is the same. It always involves the inevitable struggle to cater for everyone’s preferences and sometimes I just want to crawl into a corner and hope that everything will just go away. Looking after the AP has completely destroyed my love of cooking and experimenting and although ready meals are a great standby they should be occasional and not a regular part of your diet.

We had a friend over for dinner last night and the AP after one glass of wine, inevitably tried to hijack the evening with her usual stream of unconscious nonsense until eventually I had to encourage her to retire to bed and even then we had the comment that she must do just that, if of course nobody minded. Mind! It was a huge relief to see her depart. She really does cast a pall over the evening that lifted the minute she left the room. I have tried to understand why we feel like this and I can only come to the conclusion, sadly, that we are just utterly tired of her living in our home.

She greets these friends of ours with gushing affection which can be quite overwhelming especially for them but for the LSO and I it is ‘a fetch me the bucket’ moment. Then she resorts to random burbling usually about strange and often untrue happenings from the past or, and heaven forbid, the wonderful world of academe rears its ugly head and we adopt a superior pose and start pontificating about people and things best left alone. Finally you see the visitor’s eyes start glazing over and they stop responding. The AP continues to fill this vacuum with her claptrap until I am forced to step in.

Unfortunately there is no answer to solving this problem, we just have to make the best of it and carry on but it doesn’t stop us being utterly sick and tired of her narrow-mindedness and her shocking snobbery.

It’s another new start.

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Today is a new day and the start of a determined dieting regime. Well another attempt anyway. First off is to find a suitable book to write down everything that I eat and drink. Then it’s planning menus as much as I can given the circumstances under which we live.

It is difficult enough finding the motivation to do anything these days but to add to it feels like climbing a mountain but it must be done. I know once the weight starts to reduce I will begin to feel better and definitely more positive about life in general. We cannot change our circumstances but the LSO and myself must find a way to live our lives without feeling so unhappy and more on our terms. Control over my weight will be a massive boost to my self-esteem and my ability to cope with everything.

Despite discussing her forthcoming trip to Scotland with my cousin, then putting everything on her calendar with me, the AP yesterday had a real whinge about being away for a month and said she didn’t know that it was going to be for so long but of course she did and has chosen to apparently forget. We have the same reaction to this every year, twice a year in fact and absolutely no thought is given by the AP to us or the fact that without these breaks we would be being admitted to the nearest asylum. We have come to the conclusion that she does this quite deliberately to stir things up but now we just say it is happening and it is what it is. I feel no guilt just relief that I am finally learning to detach myself a little more each day from her cloying tentacles.

Every morning I am asked how I am which I know is supposed to solicit the same response from me to the AP but I made that mistake once before. It is all part of the manipulation and I refuse to jump on that particular bandwagon now. It is quite amazing watching from a distance and realising how much the LSO and I have been used. Sadly I think we were played from the beginning with the earlier telephone calls saying she was lonely that are now denied to the lack of proper eating and looking weak and wobbly when we arrived at her home. Even down to saying she would never come and live with us before she had even been asked. I know now she was cunning enough to sow the seeds in our minds.

Well, we are certainly paying the price for our naivety and unfortunately at a time when we should have had our freedom but we will not be pushed around mentally anymore. The AP is extremely well looked after but she will have to realise that she must back off and be thankful for what she has.

 

Help needed (but not available).

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It really is hard work looking after the AP. When I am feeling in good form I cope but when I’m a little under the weather as I am at the moment it really is difficult. The least thing irritates me and the more I try to remain calm the worse it gets. Do I mind that she is demanding and forgets to say thank you? Most of the time the answer is no. When I feel tired and emotional I am aware of every little thing but do I really care? I guess I must care in some way otherwise I wouldn’t react the way I do. I don’t particularly like what the AP is as a person, in fact that’s not entirely true, I actively dislike what she has now become. She can be pleasant one minute and nasty the next, she is unbelievably manipulative using a variety of ways to get her own way with others. The AP is self opinionated, self-centred and critical of others. She can be quite often hostile in her attitude and probably always has been but recognising it is one thing, dealing with all this is an entirely different matter. She can be extremely unpleasant towards the LSO especially if she thinks I am not around, only little things but they can be quite hurtful and do nothing to help towards a calm atmosphere.

Anyone who doesn’t know her well think that she is a sweet, dear little old lady and she tells them enormous lies about what she is capable of doing and we are often told how wonderful she is.  She can no longer keep that charade up with those who know her better so doesn’t get away with much but that doesn’t necessarily make life easier for us.

At the moment I just feel unwell and tired. Is that because of the diabetes problem? I am not doing brilliantly well on the dieting front and find the grey, wet and cold weather hugely depressing. A sunny day makes all the difference but they have been few and far between in the last month or so and on top of that we seem to be bogged down with appointments all over the place and really just need a break from it all.

Well, April isn’t too far away and then we can hand the AP over to my cousin and his wife for a month. It really cannot come soon enough.