How many times do we go around with a song going round and around in the brain? Have you noticed how it always gets stuck in a rut too. Mine today is John Tams singing the song that was used in Sharpe ‘Over the Hills and Faraway’ which must be an indication of how I feel about the AP at the moment
We have just one a week to go before the AP returns from her month long visit to kind relatives in Scotland and my heart feels like it is tightening. It has been a most enjoyable few weeks experiencing the pleasure of freedom. We have just returned from a lovely weekend staying with our son and his partner in their new home, chilling, chatting, watching TV and eating out. Last night I slept like a log which hasn’t happened for years.
Sitting in bed with a morning cup of tea and looking at the Thames Estuary glinting in the sunlight I experienced a sense of well being which was further enhanced when I opened my phone to find a message on Facebook from my cousin’s wife in Ayrshire. It was a small video on the ‘Power of Positivity’, quotes from the Dalai Lama and what jumped out at me was that ‘A positive future cannot emerge from the mind of anger and despair.’ Following this I read that ‘Hard times build determination and inner strength. (Do they?) Through them we can begin to understand the uselessness of anger.’ I agree with some of that but when you are ground into the ground it is hard to even think clearly let alone make an effort to have compassion. Am I angry, no not at the moment anyway. Do I feel despair? Yes I do. I need to find some semblance of empathy for the AP in order to deal with the mixed feelings I have at the thought of her return. All food for thought. The Dalai Lama is a wise man. One quote I particularly like is ‘Remember that not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck’ It actually makes me smile – let’s hope it’s true.
But in the meantime we still have some respite left and are planning how to use these few days to get the most out of them. As the great man says ‘See the positive side, the potential and make an effort”
Nine days to go.
Well we are just about two weeks into our break from the AP and after a delightful seven days in the wilds of North Norfolk I feel much more like my old self. The trip away was a gourmet’s delight which sadly highlighted the fact that we live in a culinary desert but the coast is only an hour away so we really must make more effort to visit it.
It was a bit unnerving when the BMW’s, Range Rovers, Mercedes and the odd Porsche 4WD arrived in their droves towards the end of the week and we were surrounded by a sea of Boden, Labradors and Hunter’s wellies but we didn’t allow it to spoil our enjoyment either of the excellent and varied cuisine available or the glorious beach walks with the dogs. There was such a wonderful choice of good places to eat that I felt like a kid in a sweet shop and to just top everything off we managed to get a cancellation at a Michelin starred restaurant and celebrated a rather belated forty-seventh wedding anniversary eating the most wonderful of meals. It has made us determined to return to The Neptune at a later date to sample the tasting menu but we will definitely need to book a room for the night.
Unfortunately we had to come home a little earlier that originally planned but that was because the weather suddenly turned much colder and wetter and we were just not equipped for it, no wellies, no warm jackets. Bit of an oversight really but then the weather has been so mild for so long that winter seemed ages away. Nevertheless it was lovely to return to our own space. It’s amazing how a break can make you appreciate what you have and being on our own there is no pressure to do anything we don’t want to do. Although the heap of ripe chillies that greeted us on our return has meant another batch of hot chilli sauce is already underway.
Such a heavenly sense of freedom. It is just so important that we make the most of this return to normality because in fifteen days time the AP will be back. Am I counting? It’s hard not to when you know that within a few days of the AP’s return we will be back on the emotional rollercoaster although this time the LSO and I will try, I hope, to get out more on our own. Well that’s the plan at the moment.
It is sad to say that our first four days without the AP have been good. We have finally relaxed and begun to enjoy our own company and our space without the ever present shadow looming over us.
We have come to the conclusion that although we at times over react to some situations it is simply that we can never relax and just be ourselves when the AP is here. Even when up in her room we are aware of her and when she does come down we wait for what has become the inevitable dig, at mostly me but occasionally the LSO. We have also become acutely aware of her innate snobbery, her vanity, her need to be centre stage and her criticism of others which is so unnecessary and quite cruel. We all, I am sure have some of these qualities but I would like to think, no, hope that we let our better sides rule and treat others with respect and love.
There were, in the beginning some fun times with the AP; lots of laughter and trips out but about two years ago it all changed. We have pinpointed it to her sudden decision that she was gaining weight (her vanity again) and insisted on eating only tiny meals. It came out of the blue and was nonsense but nothing we said made any difference, her mind was made up. Her stupidly small meals did result in weight loss but she made herself ill in the process and seemed to mentally change. It was only the nurse at the health centre who said her dieting was unacceptable and unnecessary as she was not overweight. But I do think it was too late to reverse the damage she had done to her mental capacity never mind the inevitable loss of muscle.
Is this what happens when we grow so old? The AP was never, as far as I know so stubborn, unpleasant or so unforgiving about others. The LSO and I have wondered about this and we have come to the conclusion that her daft eating regime did contribute to a sudden personality change and a physical deterioration but also as we age the brain struggles to cope with everything, causing confusion and fear. Because of this it uses shortcuts for expression; hence the lack of grace, the sharp voiced demand for things to be done and the centralisation of emotions. We are aware that she has hated growing older and the loss of her sight is particularly distressing and it is a sad fact that this whole situation can only get worse.
Thankfully we have some time away on the North Norfolk coast courtesy of a special friend and the dogs are coming with us. It does mean an overloaded car for a short trip which is a bit different from our bi-annual trips to Spain which involve far more pre-preparation but a lot less luggage. It will be a joy to just chill out and do a bit of revisiting of places and the discovering of new ones too. It will also be good to have a change of venue, to be away from the shadows in our own home and hopefully they will have cleared by our return.
I woke up this morning to the realisation that today was the first day of our month of freedom from the tyranny of the AP. That statement may appear a little harsh but unfortunately it is true. When we struggle each day to make life bearable it’s a wonderful feeling to know that we can go where we like, do what we like, eat and drink what we like and feel no guilt. It is completely energising. Suddenly mundane tasks are no longer a chore, just something be done quickly and efficiently leaving time and space to follow whatever we want to do.
The LSO has gone fishing and I am about to study all the books I have on dealing with diabetes. That may sound boring readers but to me it is a relief because I don’t have to hide anything or explain myself.
Two dear friends have also made our day with their generosity and thoughtfulness. We have just received a beautiful white rose, a fine bottle of wine and some chocolates and earlier today we were given some clams and langoustine which are two of the LSO’s favourite shellfish. So tonight it is clam pasta with a spicy sauce washed down with a glass or two of Italian white wine. Heavenly, happy days.
To L, R and L thank you for everything and for all your support.
No count down yet, I am determined to make the most of our freedom.
A light on the horizon and this time it isn’t the train hurtling towards us down a tunnel. Tomorrow we take the AP to meet up with my cousin and his wife who are going to look after her for a month. A whole month to ourselves, I am really quite excited about having our personal space and freedom back. To also be free for a while of the hurtful digs and lack of grace that seems to have become part of our everyday life. To have time to do the things we want to do without any criticism or being made to feel guilty. Oh joy!
One day to go.
Well it’s official according to the AP, we are naive! At 71 years of age, having more experience in every respect than the AP has ever had even at 99 year of age we have been told we were this at the lunch table.
Part of the problem is her lack of hearing and the echo syndrome; someone makes a comment and seconds later the AP repeats this as if she is the first person to say it. All very peculiar. I got up to destroy her old bank card and said I would cut it up. Seconds later we were told it had to be cut up to which the LSO said yes, that was happening and then as if he hadn’t spoken she told him that we were naive and didn’t know about things like that. Oh dear!
The next issue will no doubt be over her passport which expires when she is 101! I used it to apply for her disabled sticker and am being accused of not returning it to her. Unfortunately I don’t remember handing it back but it isn’t something I would hang on too. I am afraid it will be another ‘oh dear’ moment.
Two days to go and we will be able to breathe again and hopefully the stress levels will start to recede. I feel at the moment a knot of angst inside and a feeling of not having enough oxygen in the air.
There is no doubt that looking after an AP is a thankless task and leaves both the LSO and myself teetering on the edge of our nerves almost permanently. You really never know when the mood will alter, one minute she is quite pleasant and then it all changes and it’s usually when she can’t have her own way then she becomes irritable and petulant.
This time it was over the lottery. The AP is a bit of a gambler on the side and is convinced that she will win the ‘biggie’ one day so we have a pretty regular flutter on both the National Lottery, the Euromillions and the Thunderball. She does appear to be pretty lucky with the Thunderball in particular, well I suppose I am really the one winning as the AP gives me her money and I do it all on my online account. I am absolutely careful to ensure that she has her own separate ticket as we do not need to be accused of cheating and she has once got close to that so I always do a line more for us on a separate ticket if we play at the same time.
So after last nights mega win of £5 I asked what she would like to do this evening and after several possibilities she decided, out of the blue, to have a scratchcard instead. The AP has never in over three years asked me to do one of these on the computer for her. Unfortunately I will not do it as all that’ll happen is that I will be moving more and more money out of the bank account to cover the losses. So I said no. There was an immediate change of attitude and the face screwed up and I was forced to explain over and over again why I am refusing her request. No just isn’t enough unfortunately but no it will remain.
These are really very trivial issues but it is astonishing how they can irritate and eat away at your emotions. No wonder we live on the edge.
Three days to go to a month of getting our emotional stability back.