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Early morning

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Good morning ladies

We are mid heatwave here in Zürich and to be honest I can’t remember it being as hot as this in ages. I probably notice it more because the office I work in is verging on the unbearable with no air conditioning, being surrounded by building sites and a main road, so opening the windows is a bit of a no go ….and about seven million computer screens happily exuding heat. My ladies don’t like having the fan on (because of draughts), so there is only one thing for it…..sitting and melting (or sweating excessively!). But as it isn’t raining and the sun is shining I’m not going to complain.

Last week I finally made it to my goal – and can now happily tell you thatI have survived moving mum to her new home and the audit at work and I’m off on a (very well-deserved) holiday soon.

We have however had a little more drama on the way.

Last Monday I spent the evening trying to reach mum in her flat – no joy, but I thought it was unlikely she was out. The manager of the senior living facility went to check that she hadn’t collapsed or anything…nope, no-one there. By 11.30 English time I realised that no, she couldn’t possibly be at a church event and that something must be wrong.

So I started the lovely task of ringing round the hospitals in the middle of the night….

I hit the jackpot first time. Yes, at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle…’she’s in Ward 22, but they are very busy. Can you call back in half an hour?’. (It’s already 12.45 my time and I have to get up at 6….). I spend the time googling and giving myself a shock when I realise that Ward 22 is the ward for major orthopaedic trauma. Broken hip anyone?

The minutes tick by. At 1.30am I finally make it through the ether and reach a lovely nurse, who tells me that mother is fine. She tripped over in Northumberland Street and landed on her face. She may have broken her nose and she is a big mess, but essentially she is fine. Nothing majorly orthopaedic is broken. She is drinking tea and happily chatting to the nurses and I am able to talk to her and she seems fine (but unfortunately less than beautiful). They are keeping her overnight for observation and to run some more tests.

I am relieved but there is so much adrenalin rushing through my blood that I can’t sleep and end up heading off to deal with the auditors on 2 and a half hours sleep. (Not recommended).

The next morning I ring the senior living facility to keep them in the loop and speak to the hospital again. Mother is fine; she is a trooper and must have very good bones as yet again, nothing is broken; she will be taken home in an ambulance. I talk to her again and she is quite jolly (enjoying the attention?) and full of praise for the kindness of the nurses and their tea-making ability.

I speak to her again once she is back home – a delicious salad is waiting for her as she has missed lunch – the facility are really very good. (It helped that I primed them to do this). She is fine. Battered but fine and not in any pain.

The next morning I receive a concerned phone call from the centre manager who has just returned from holiday. He is letting me know that my mother has had an accident, but is fine……? I tell him that I know this and I am the one who informed them….

He has spoken to mother who insists that none of her family know about the accident and he particularly must not tell me because I will worry and make a big drama out of it….

Er?????

Have I made a big drama????

Failing memory I can deal with (plus I assume in this case mixed with a case of good old fashioned shock), but I do have a problem with mother instructing people not to tell me what is happening…. That is not fair…

We had words…..

Several times….

I hope she now understands that this is not a kind thing to do or say….

Thankfully, as the manager happily informed me, he is happy to ignore her request as he is obliged to tell me. I’m rather pleased about this. It feels like I have a spy on my side.

Sorry about the length of this. I was going to tell you about spectacularly mis-matched socks, but I’ll save that for another day as the office is calling.

I hope the sun is shining on you, wherever you are!
Helen

Starting to get my life back

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Hello there. I’m still here. It’s just that life has been a bit hectic….

I spent this weekend in England visiting mum and checking that things are organised and running the way they should. They are. Mum is happy as a clam. Infact the manager of her assisted living complex said they should really use her for marketing purposes – she is always happy and smiling and chatting. In fact of the 70 people who now live there, she is the one who has settled in the quickest. Day 2 I think it was when she admitted that despite being dreadful for about 6 months and fighting every step of the way, sabotaging everything she could , her new home is actually nicer than her old one….

It couldn’t be better really, although I could really have done without those six months….(but she’s forgotten all about it, so I guess I should too!). I definitely see the advantages of living for today – yesterday is forgotten about and she doesn’t think about tomorrow, so as long as people are friendly and the food is nice today, she’s happy.

Now there’s just her house to sell and I have accepted an offer, so I really think we are into the final stretch.

My useless brother has been to visit from Canada but failed to do the odds and ends that I didn’t have time for last time (hanging some pictures and mirrors was clearly too strenuous), nor did he manage to take mum on a single trip out or eat a meal with her in her residence….On that front I have now officially given up. He did clear the garage of her old house, (which frankly was full of stuff he had dumped there 25 years ago), but also tried unsuccessfully to get me to pay for it. (Ha – no chance on that one matey!). I suppose I should be grateful for small (very small) mercies.

Otherwise life is starting to calm down a little. I had a day off today as the washing machine repair man was coming (to tell me the washing machine is officially dead) and I managed to finish a pleated skirt that had been half made for months, as well as even making it out for my first run (well, part walk) of the year. It was a lovely day, pottering and taking care of odds and ends. I’m feeling very contented…

This may change as the company I work for is organising to move to a town quite a way outside Zürich. I will have a two and a half hour a day commute on three trains each way. I’m being very open minded at the moment and will give it a try, but if it’s all too much then I shall say so and look for something else, which would be a shame as I love my job, but I have to be able to have a life too…

On that happy note I’m off to the garden to contemplate the small things of life, put my feet up and read my book.

Life is good ;-)

Helen

May news

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

 

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Another month has gone by since I last wrote and spring has well and truly arrived here on the hill. For once I’m not going to feel guilty about my lack of posting because I’ve done more in the last month than I usually do in a year – and frankly, well, I’m cutting myself some slack because in my humble opinion I deserve it!

The big news is that dear husband (now elevated to dear saintly husband) and I were in England for a week and got mum sorted and moved and her house cleared and up for sale. I had been dreading the move, absolutely dreading it, but honestly it went way better than I expected. I was a bit taken aback when I arrived in the UK to find that while mum thought she had been ‘working’ for months to get ready, she had in fact being doing nothing much really….which gave me just two days to sort through the house she had lived in for 60 years to pick out what was to go with her. As she moved into a lovely apartment this meant about half of everything – so it wasn’t a case of packing a suitcase. Anyway, long days and a decisive nature got me through, we had wonderful packers and movers (thank you Pickfords) and the new home has turned out to be a huge success – flat gorgeous, village picturesque, lunches outstanding, people friendly and welcoming….I could go on…

(I always think it’s amazing what mountains you can move when the chips are down and you just have to do it!)

The only negative for mum in her new home is that having lived on auto-pilot for so long – knowing where everything is and how everything works – she is now having to actually use the old grey cells and work out how exactly the new shower works or how she gets to Waitrose. Having to concentrate is hard when you haven’t done so for a while – but I think she’s mentally much more alert as a result and actually has some conversation and can remember when she’s been and what she has done. She has only once said she misses her old house and I think it’s that automatically knowing things and places that she misses because she has also admitted that it’s much nicer where she is now.

I just feel hugely relieved that she is somewhere safe with people around and nice food and in a lovely place.

So I’m patting myself on the back (even if no-one else is!).

Other than that, there has been a wonderful trip to Morzine to quilt with Quiltova and Mrs Shark’s dinner, but I’ll save that story for another day….

So a big ‘phew’ and now I’m getting back to living my life!

Onward and upwards!

Helen

Spring?

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

photo

(Zürich Operahouse and Bellevue)

We finally got a breath of spring this week and the snow has gone. This meant that the streets were immediately full of people, restaurants put their tables outside (still a tad chilly for actually eating outside if you ask me) and we all felt more optimistic. The cold, grey, wet and windy weather we’ve had recently was getting everyone down. Now we seem to have moved on. About time too….

I see it’s almost a month since I managed to post. I don’t know where the time has gone although a huge amount of time and energy has gone into ‘the move’. To be honest, there has been an awful lot of very frustrating stuff going on and mother has done her very best to put a spanner in the works. She has accepted that she has to go but sees it all as very negative and has managed to royally mess up everything she has been asked to do…the jury is still out on whether this was due to sheer bloody mindedness on her part, or possibly due to dementia. I lean to the former.

It’s all so ridiculous.

An example in point – the lovely lady from the development had called twice to invite her to lunch and offered to help her choose curtain fabrics that they would get made up for the flat. Mother told her in no uncertain terms that this was not convenient. She was too busy (doing lord knows what – dozing in front of the fire??). When I confronted her on this, the only response was ‘well I don’t want to move’. I pointed out that she was moving and she had signed a contract – did she want to move with curtains or without curtains? Who would suffer from this ridiculousness….? There is nothing rational anymore. She also messed up the valuations of her house by telling the estate agents that she would be replacing the bathroom before we sold….duh????

It is so very hard to deal with this from so far away with a loopy 88 year old playing sabotage….

But the move will happen in 20 days. It is booked and almost sort of organised ….I’m travelling over for 6 days, mainly husband is coming for 5. As nothing at all has been sorted for the packers (as she needs to take EVERYTHING) I imagine it will all be a bit stressful, but it WILL happen. Come hell or high water. Or probably both.

At that point I think my blood pressure may drop 20 points overnight.

I’m doing a fairly good job or detaching myself and doing nice things for me – as many of you recommended. I know I will probably be able to look back and laugh about this one day. So I’m taking breaks, doing yoga, visiting friends and generally being nice to me. So far it mostly seems to be working – with the odd middle of the night exception, but knowing that the end is in sight, or at least the beginning of the end is helpful. As is consciously not thinking about it.

Then there is the house to clear and sell, but I will deal with that when I get to it….

As you do…..

Next on the list is to get out my spring and summer clothes and have a good sort through. I know already that nothing will fit, but so be it. As I just read in India Knight’s very funny book ‘In your prime’ from a certain age you have to sacrifice your face or your bottom – as food is involved in one and not the other, this is a no brainer for me. I am embracing my womanly curves!

Onward folks. Enough blethering for this afternoon…

Helen

 

Still here and still taking one day at a time….

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

Hello there.

Sorry I’ve been missing in action for the last month. How can it have been that long? Oh well, I’m here now and I guess that’s what counts….

So where are we? No sewing, no knitting, precious little housekeeping or cooking, general neglect of 16 year old son (who anyway seems to prefer it this way)….

I’ve been super busy. Trying to take one day at a time to make it all less overwhelming.

Work is well, work, busy and understaffed, but at least I like the people I work with and the work itself is interesting, even if there is too much of it. I could quite fancy a bit of boring same old, same old, but year-end is the end of March, so that is unlikely to happen….

On the life front I have been progressing. A flat has been found – in the retirement development I mentioned last time. It is lovely. Mother has – much against her better judgment – signed the contract and carpets and light fittings, fire and fireplace have been ordered. Curtains and wallpaper are still pending…. There is less refusal to move, but no enthusiasm either. More a miserable acceptance. My decision was reinforced by the fact that Audrey the neighbour who was keeping a magical eye and who would by osmosis know if mother had fallen down the stairs (which I rather doubted anyway) has herself gone to meet her maker. So the back up plan, which was dubious at best, is now gone and mother really is on her own.

I tried very hard to get some ‘buy in’ (nice technical term) from mother – but dear husband told me to please stop this as she was not capable of making a decision to move out of the house she’s been in since the 50s as she was unable to see that there was anything wrong, and that I had to man up and make the decision that needed to be made. It helped to be told that it would be downright irresponsible not to make the decision. So there we are. Decision made. No going back now. I know its for the best and think, just maybe, mum will think that too once she has settled in and made some friends.

The same (saintly) husband accompanied me on our latest visit – which was very good for his ego and very bad for mine. We are sorting through papers going back to the 70’s, stashed randomly in piles, and trying to sort the wheat from the chaff. He was praised to the heavens for being wonderfully helpful. Somewhat different to the treatment I received three weeks earlier doing the same job. Nonetheless we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Rather unfortunately, as we are planning to put the house on the market, the house deeds are nowhere to be found….I am banking on the fact that there must be a workaround to this as we can’t be the first people who have been in this situation. (Really I am just trying not to think about it and hoping the solicitor – who is a gem – will save our bacon).

So we have a moving date range, have seen the movers and are getting on for good to go.

The next task will be to clear the house. I am trying not to think about this. My (delightful – NOT) brother will be visiting from Canada during the appropriate time period. He told mother last month that he would clear the house, but has subsequently told me that his total contribution to the proceedings will be to take mother on a couple of day trips. Unless he is dying of some terrible incapacitating disease that I know nothing about I find this a good bit less than his fair share. He has now stopped replying to my emails and I have steam coming out of my ears every time I think about it.

Any solutions to this little conundrum on a postcard please. I will give the crown jewels to anyone who can solve this one for me!

Helen