Thursday, 17 April 2008

Summer fetes and Christmas crackers

Growing old. I’m not sure if I want to grow too old. I mean really, really old. The kind of old where everything is beginning to stop working, or the kind of old where you look around and wonder where everyone has gone.
That’s one of my biggest fears, loneliness. I don’t mind being on my own, in fact I quite like my own company. For as much as I love being around my family and friends, I am also content in my own company and I never run out of things to amuse myself with. But being on your own and being lonely are two very different stories.
Another fear of mine is helplessness.
I’ve had a lot of time, and experience, to reflect on these fears recently. Over the past two years my nans health has rapidly deteriorated. She has been in and out of many hospitals, and I have witnessed things that I would rather not have witnessed.
One particular hospital my nan was transferred to was heart-breaking. It was filled with elderly patients, who were either senile and chatting to invisible people in bed, or they were hooked up to a machine, unable to feed or clothe themselves, let alone use a toilet without any kind of assistance. And no one to visit them, to break up their long, lonely day.
Lily was the name of the lady next to my nans bed, in this particular hospital. She had more or less lost the sight in both her eyes. When I first met her she told me she lived in the hospital, but was waiting for the day her husband would take her home. She said she didn’t know where he was, but one day he would walk through the door and take her home with him. Apparently, a nurse informed me, Lily’s husband died years ago. And she has no other family members. No children, no brothers or sisters, and no friends to drop by and look after her.
I sometimes wonder if Lily is still waiting for her husband. Sometimes it’s hard to shake certain visions from your mind.
My nan lost her husband, my granddad, a long time ago. But luckily she had daughters and son-laws, and then grand children and even great grand children, and not forgetting the kind neighbours and friends, to care and share her life with.
I have some lovely, happy memories of my younger, healthier nan. My fiercely independent, neat and organised, and very creative nan.
Every summer she would turn her garden into a summer fete. Her pride and joy, bright and colourful garden. The garden would be full of such games (with prizes!) as ‘pull a string’ and ‘catch a fish’ and there would be flags and home-made sponge cake, and even a goody bag to take home. How clever and thoughtful she was.
Every Christmas my nan would make Christmas crackers, filled with silly jokes and paper hats, and a little toy for the person who was left with the winning part of the cracker. Not forgetting her scrumptious, home-made mince pies to over indulge in during the festive period.
Thanks for those happy days nan.
Today, my nan is finally leaving one of the many hospitals she has stayed at, to be re housed in a nursing home.
She can no longer return to the care home, as her dementia has spread, and walking is not an option, she now has to be pushed in a wheel chair.
But she will receive around the clock nursing at this new home, and the nurses, and we, her family, will all do our up most best to make her last years as comfortable and pleasant as they could possibly be.
She may be frail and unable to walk and talk, but I hope she knows she's still surrounded by so much love, and those happy, fond memories of summer fetes and Christmas crackers.

Picture of the day:

The English countryside.


Rebecca said...

I am so sorry your Grandmother is going through this, but how wonderful she isn't going through it alone. My husband's grandmother suffered similarly, and was also surrounded by her loved ones. It made it easier for everyone. I worry about growing old, and the burden it places on my only child. Here's to long life, good health and loving relations. Cheers.

Blur Ting said...

Yes, it's heartbreaking to see how someone strong and independent can become weak and vulnerable. My mum used to say that becoming senile actually helps an aged person cope better in old age. Maybe there is truth in this. One slowly forgets the past and the present as we age, so that leaving becomes not as sorrowful. You think?

JYankee said...

health is everything. it's helpless to watch loved ones grow old and not be able to do more about it.....

Kate said...

This is so hard, I know. I worked in a nursing home for a while; and when I was growing up, my mom was the director of nursing at that same nursing home, so I used to hang out there every day after school. Your grandma is so lucky she has you to visit her and talk with her. I used to like to "adopt" someone who wasn't my actual grandparent to visit. If you ever are so compelled, it feels good.

La delirante said...

What a coincidence. I was thinking about the same things yesterday as my grandmother was celebrating her 91st birthday! They have told me that her health has deteriorated but she is still strong and her mind is working perfectly. I called her and she not only recognized me (which I knew she would anyway) but also asked me for hubby. She was so happy to hear me.

I felt sad because she is not the same way she was 20 years ago. I wish she had remained like that forever :) but life is like that and I just wish as my grandad used to say, that I won't reach a very very old age. I would feel helpless and I don't wish to depend on anyone for everything :(

The World According to Me said...

Hello Rebecca

Thanks for your comments.
At least my nan has a lovely family on hand, you're right.
I'm sorry to hear about your husband's grandma, but I'm glad to hear she was also surrounded by loved ones.

To good health, and loving relations! Cheers!

The World According to Me said...

Hi Rebecca

I meant to say 'loving' family on hand, and I typed 'lovely' family on hand. I just read it back and didn't want it to come across as conceited?!
Of course all my relations are lovely, but it wasn't the word I was meant to type!

The World According to Me said...

Hello Blur

It is hard to watch my nan and see how she is now, particularly as she was always so independent and capable.
I think it's probably for the best that she doesn't really understand what's happening to her body, and what's going on around her. So yes, I can see the point your mum made.

Hope you have a pleasant weekend.

The World According to Me said...

Hello Jyankee

I have been guilty of taking my health for granted, but as you say, it is so important. Sometimes it's not until things start to go wrong or you watch others suffering that you realise just how important it is.

I wish you a healthy, happy, weekend.

The World According to Me said...

Hello Kate

So you've experienced nursing homes first hand.
What a caring act, 'adopting' someone who doesn't have any visitors.
I must admit, at the hospital my mum and aunts would find themselves talking to patients who didn't have any family, hoping to brighten their day. I always found myself getting a bit emotional! But I would like to think that at the nursing home I can take some time out to talk to others, and hopefully put a smile on their face.

Hope the race goes okay this weekend!

The World According to Me said...

Hi La Delirante

91? That's a grand age. I'm pleased to hear she is still strong and her mind is working perfectly. Bless her.

Unfortunately we all age, so I guess you have to cherish the memories and appreciate the time / words / love that we still have.

Enjoy your weekend.

TravelinOma said...

What a gorgeous picture.

My mom died suddenly at age 72. We were all shocked and upset that our vibrant, active mother died so young. But as I see really old people, totally dependent on others, with their bodies and minds betraying them, I realize how lucky my mom really was. Good post.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I'll let you all know how my speech goes!

Amel's Realm said...

Sorry to hear about your nan. It's always painful and tough to watch our loved one deteriorate physically and mentally (forgetting things). But you're right, at least your nan has many people who love her and who'll take good care of her. :-)))

Life's really unpredictable. When I was young, I never thought that I'd be the one worrying about my parents or the elders in my family. But now reality's changed, eh?

I just hope that if God takes away my parents, they won't have to suffer at all...or at least not too long...that's my wish. :-))))

The World According to Me said...

Hello Travelinoma

I am sorry to read about your mum. Must have been a huge shock, someone so healthy and full of life. But as you say, you can receive some peace from knowing that she did not suffer in pain or with lack of dignity.

I look forward to hearing about your speech!

Glad you like the picture.

The World According to Me said...

Hello Amel

Thanks for your kind words.

It's funny how the parents start off looking after the children, and often the children end up looking after the parents.
But that's the benefit and love of family I guess.

Take care and enjoy your weekend.