I dread anything that arises to do with the AP’s finances, in particular the income tax she has to pay on her rented property. She has always been convinced she doesn’t need to pay any and every year when it comes to payment we go through the same rigmarole as the three previous years. We explain everything again and again and she gets more and more unpleasant as she obviously thinks we know nothing and couldn’t possibly be right either.
The AP has absolutely no grace and every time things are patiently explained to her she tells us she didn’t know these facts before and now its all clear, until next time when once again the whole scenario is repeated. She never ever says thank you for the effort made to handle all her affairs.
This lack of understanding would be easier to deal with if she was more accepting of her limitations instead of pretending she is so capable and mentally alert. I can understand that she is frustrated by being so old and forgetful but she does not help herself by talking over us all the time and telling us we haven’t told her anything. The implication of course is that everybody is out to fleece her and that must include the LSO and myself. That would be laughable if it didn’t hurt so much. The AP is basically a bully and I think always has been and her response to any adversity is to attack. She has kept this side of her nature well hidden, well from me anyway but I can only think that the deterioration of the old grey matter, through the ageing process, has stripped away the veneer of sweetness revealing a sour little monster that has lurked there all her life. She does make some effort to be a ‘dear old lady’ but these occasions are becoming less frequent and in fact are rather unpalatable as we know they are false and won’t last.
Astonishingly she seems to resent that we have done more than her in our lives and know more than her too. I am unable to comprehend this attitude; the LSO and myself are proud that all our family members have exceeded anything we have achieved and feel no resentment or jealousy, just relief and pleasure that they have done and are doing so well in life.
I am overweight and useless at dieting so what is the answer? I must have tried just about every diet available but nothing lasts. I hate dieting clubs and the boring meetings that leave me climbing the walls. I am not a failed dieter just a hopeless one. I did manage to lose a goodly amount of weight on the LighterLife diet and kept it off for over three years but then we moved and the weight along with the good life crept back on. Do I just accept I am fat? No, sadly now I am classed as diabetic that is not really an option so I really must do something to change my life. Even as I write this I am thinking about food or rather trying not to and I have even put on some gentle new age music by Enya in the hope it will induce a sense of inner calm.
I can procrastinate for England finding any excuse not to exercise and these range from looking after the AP to it’s too cold/ too wet/ too hot, anything really. Equally I am not a couch potato and can on an average day cover 8000 steps just trundling around the house and the kitchen according to my Fitbit. I do try to swim three times a week although lately that has been shelved while we renovate the utility room.
In fairness the bit about looking after the AP is not just an excuse. My passion is cooking but I love experimenting with strong flavours, the LSO and myself enjoy chillies, (we even grow our own), spices, herbs and discovering dishes from around the world. I can get hugely excited at reading a recipes but then realise there is no point in cooking it because unfortunately the AP just wants almost liquid food that is bland and takes little effort to eat. The downside to this is that I am losing all interest in cooking. I slump into disinterest and end up having a pizza and just buy cottage pie or something in lots of sauce for the AP. In all fairness she will eat a Chinese meal but only the sweet and sour or chicken with lemon sauce. The AP does not really like rice and pasta is preferred from a tin, she will go into raptures over a roast dinner with lots of gravy. Fish is treated with great suspicion unless it is trapped in a fat absorbing batter served with chips. I sometimes think that I could make a ton of lemon sauce and pour it over any dish I make, add extra lemon, a deluge of vinegar and salt and she would love it. You may think I am exaggerating but far from it, the real truth is worse and what I have just written is a tiny bit of the real situation.
I need to find a way of solving this problem that doesn’t always mean a ready meal for the AP then cooking something different for the LSO and myself. Ready meals are ok to a point but in fact the AP likes to pretend she eats like we do and objects to having a different meal even though she probably prefers it. It really is a case of lose lose for me.
I think what I really need is a personal chef as well as a personal trainer. Oh well, since there is no chance of either situation occurring I guess it is back to the dieting books, I need to cut carbs and be strong about the meals for the AP.
I woke up this morning to another grey day and realised how much we need sunlight in our lives. The great greyness seems to seep into our very bones, our hearts and our minds and if, like us, you are experiencing a low point in life it is hard to fight off this enveloping yet invisible shroud. But fight it we must.
My lovely Goddaughter sent us a video of our little Minnow that she had taken almost 12 years ago and although watching it brought tears to our eyes it also made us smile. It also made me think of the importance of humour and light in our lives.
I remember all those corny old songs from decades ago such as ‘You are the sunshine of my life’, sung by Stevie Wonder,’I’ll follow the sun’ from the Beatles, ‘Follow the sun from Keep Searching’ by Del Shannon, (my age is showing here), ‘The warmth of the sun’ by the Beach Boys and how could I almost forget the Walker Brothers ‘The sun ain’t gonna shine anymore’. I am sure there are hundreds more and they all illustrate the importance of a ray of sunshine in life and how it can lift the spirits. It is all too easy to sink into a well of sadness and self pity which becomes all encompassing.
Humour is a form of sunshine and we certainly need to get that back in our lives. We have no control over the weather but we can do something positive about how we deal with our situation. The AP continues to sail onwards getting dottier by the day but at least this is a more acceptable side of her nature than the alter ego that pops out every now and then like a grey monster and snarls at us for no apparent reason. Mind you I won’t hold my breath, the nasty side of her nature is never far from the surface.
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.