Search this website

May news

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

 

1

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

Progress?

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

IMG_6015

Today I finished the rag rug for my daughter – just in time really as she is moving out at the end of the week. She’s thrilled with it and I’m happy to be giving her something cheerful and practical – and of course because I used a whole load of old fabrics up in the process.

(Lots of people asked me about finishing off the rug and how I would weave it with the nails at the end of the frame in the way – the answer was a large crochet hook and a bit of perseverence – it was perfectly do-able!).

I realised today that I’ve been so wound up with the issues relating to my mother that I have given daughter moving out hardly any thought at all. She is so eminently sensible and so clearly ready to go – not to mention that she will be living with two boys she has known well for years and it will save her a three hour commute – but truth be told, I shall miss her terribly. She has never been the slightest bother and is positively helpful and good company. I’m sure she will at least come home frequently – to watch Strictly Come Dancing or Call the Midwife if for no other reason – but it is still A BIG THING. Maybe daughter number two being away at school in England makes it seem less of a change because daughter number one will still be in the same country, but I have just realised that she will not be coming home in the holidays unless it is to babysit the cat when we are away….gulp.

There are too many things changing at the moment and it’s making me feel a bit all at sea.

On the mother front it is one step forward and one step back – I’m now (following Lind’s advice) checking out powers of attorney and have realised that although I have one for property and financial affairs I don’t have one for heath and welfare. When I did the first one a couple of years ago it would have been nice if the solicitor had alerted my to the fact that the latter even existed and we could have taken care of that at the same time…oh well, we didn’t and I shall just have to get on with it.

Mother now tells me she wants to look at sheltered accommodation near where she lives. I tell her that this is a home, and that was what she always said she didn’t want, but she seems very swayed by wanting to stay in an area she knows. I am concerned that if she doesn’t have to look after herself at all she will very quickly decline mentally. The other place I looked at (so lovely that I would happily live there myself) would require independent living at least to some extent – which I see as a positive and was what she always wanted, but I’m now wracked with doubts and agree to leave making a downpayment until tomorrow after she has visited the home in question. I honestly think that by tomorrow she will have forgotten all about it and that I should probably just make the necessary decisions and stop giving her any leeway in the matter…

I’m normally a very decisive person, but I’m scared to opt for independent living only to find in 6 months time that she has dementia and have to move her again. Of course the GP whose advice I have sought has not bothered to reply to my email…

I feel like I’m not getting anywhere. God give me strength.

More later

Helen

Difficult Decisions…

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

The last few weeks haven’t been very easy ones for me. There have been some issues with my mother, who is 87 and lives all alone in England – where we have no family left and she has no friends. So when I say alone, I mean really alone….

There have been falls, collapses, failing memory and not eating enough – but the vagaries of old age mean than mum can’t see or remember any of those things (which may just, for her at least, be an advantage) and so sees no reason to change anything in her life – least of all living in the house she’s been in since about 1957.

Truth be told, I’m worried sick and am now in the awful situation of having to make a decision for her that she doesn’t want made. Its weighing up safety and food and companionship (the latter two of which I think may probably significantly improve the memory situation) against a hatred of change. We are talking about the lady who hasn’t changed anything (or I should add, thrown anything away) since about 1982. The lady who has failed to move with changes in the world in any way whatsoever and for whom even wearing a sweater that isn’t beige is anathema…

I’m sure you see my dilemma. Making a decision which the party affected by the decision isn’t going to like. Which potentially could make her unhappy, although I doubt that, she isn’t really the unhappy type, more the placid content type. But it is going to mean change for someone who doesn’t like change.

I’m going for a flat in a very nice retirement development – where there is support if needed and meals, but otherwise where the old dears live independently. It has to be better than a home, right?

Now we have to address the issue of how exactly we do this when I live a thousand miles away….

Wish me luck folks. I’m certainly going to need it!

Helen