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.