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.
It’s interesting what people say to you when you tell them you look after your mother who is soon to be one hundred years old. Some say you are doing a wonderful job, others understand how hard it is or just say that they couldn’t do it and there are those who make the comment that we must not have thought she would live that long when we took on the task.
Well, the LSO and I did expect the AP to live this long and in the beginning were happy that she probably would given that she is incredibly well looked after. What we didn’t expect was that the person we thought was sweet and lovely has turned out to be difficult, domineering, demanding and at times extremely unpleasant. Even being trapped by the circumstances would have been more acceptable if this person we no longer know had been who we thought she was. That is a rather convoluted statement but it is what the situation has become.
The AP appears to have little regard for us and can be unbelievably rude, making snide and very nasty comments about others as well as about us. We can only put this down to the fact that the brain is deteriorating and the better thought patterns are being buried or destroyed. Certainly as the time approaches for her to go North she is becoming more and more obtuse and changeable, pleasant one minute, unpleasant the next.
The LSO says she is making a point, but what point? It is completely lost on me and I refuse to allow her to rule my actions or my thoughts because that will not be good for me or for the LSO. I actually think she resents him, partly because she thinks she could tell me what to do if he wasn’t here but also because he is more volatile in his temperament than I am therefore more unpredictable. I need a quiet life to survive; I don’t like confrontation but will react if pushed hard enough. In truth, I realised that when the LSO was so very ill last year that had the unthinkable occurred the first thing I would do would be to arrange a care home for the AP and sell the house. There is absolutely no way that I could survive living with the her on my own and that became patently obvious when the LSO was in hospital. He is a great buffer, thank goodness.
Well it’s only twelve days to her departure and the beginning of our month of freedom and a brief return of our personal space so it is just a matter of weathering less than two more weeks of the AP.
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.
In this case the royal ‘we’.
Well it’s been a good week with the grandchildren staying. They are fun and time consuming and a bit like having two Duracell bunnies under the roof. The AP had to be left for a few hours today when we delivered them back to parents and took over the dog for her annual holiday. We are now running a pack of three Yappy Jacks for the next two weeks.
We collected money for AP at the Post Office on the way back which has been meticulously counted; that facility is intact! We listened to her story about the dogs whilst the long suffering hubs made a much needed cup of tea which involved getting a spoon out of the drawer. AP was in front of this and poor hubs twice asked her to please move but to no avail as the story continued. I then asked her to move so that hubs could access a spoon and this was taken the wrong way. She obviously hadn’t heard hubs and then misunderstood me, screwed up the face and flounced off heading up to her room. It was a moment or two before I realised that AP had thought we had no time to listen to the story about the dogs and had not even realised that a cup of tea was being made despite the kettle being on. What have we done to deserve this and why would we be so deliberately rude. We often listen to the same stories over and over again, accepting that this is part of being old. If AP could just think for one minute she would realise that we are never that heartless but we are becoming heartily sick and tired of dealing with a Jekyll and Hyde personality. With us she is unpleasant, cantankerous, belligerent, childish and obstreperous but with other members of the family, friends and visitors we make an effort and are gushingly sweet and sugary and for a while can play the dear old dotty lady. This effort obviously exhausts her and we obviously don’t matter.
Oh dear, well the pleasant atmosphere lasted all of 15 minutes and the feeling of well being and contentment (an exaggeration) is over and we are back on the treadmill. It really is no pleasure in coming back to our own home. Roll on the 26th September and four weeks of freedom from this tyranny.