Thinking about Gran

This week’s been another challenging week at work, for many reasons. It’s left my faith in companies, their HR functions, and management styles much depleted. But, it’s also caused me to look at my background, where I come from and how my family have worked in the past.

I’m the first one in my family to go to University. The first to leave the family home, town, region for somewhere very different. To my Gran, it was rather a strange choice, but one that she accepted easily. She was born, grew up, lived, married, worked, had a family and is still living in the same town. Yes, she lived for 23 years with my parents in Scotland, but she wanted to move back to her ‘home’ to be closer to the extended family.  Me moving to London was bizarre, but OK.

My Gran and Granddad were of the generation that worked in the same town all their lives. They worked for the same company for a number of years (many, many, moons!). They grew up with the people around them. They know (knew) everyone. So, when I moved to London, Gran came to visit. For her, sitting in my flat all day while I went to the ‘city’ to work, commuting longer than took for Gran to walk from one part of her town across to the other, it was odd. Gran always stayed for a month a year with me. She would either come by train, to Kings Cross, or I would bring her back with me in the car. She would iron, bake, wash, tidy, do word searches and watch TV while I was at work. In the evenings, we’d go out to eat. I introduced her to Pizza Express, Cafe Rouge, Thai food, and Bella Pasta. She loved Chinese food, and would always have the same thing.

Despite my university education, marketing manager position in a city firm and a making a decent living, I was not allowed to pay for anything. i had to resort to desperate measures to ensure that I paid for dinner. i felt guilty if she paid. So, there were many, many times where I was a very bad, disobedient granddaughter.

I loved taking her out. I loved treating her.

Today where she’s in the residential home, I feel guilty again. I’m not there to visit. I can’t just pop in on my way home from work. I don’t see her as much as I’d like to. So, I look back on the times where I shared my home with her. Laughed with her, ordered her a Bailey’s after dinner, and watched as she got mad with me on realising I’d already paid the bill.

I miss my Gran. I hope she knows just how much she means to me and how much I would love to see her more.

Christmas shopping

It’s that time of year, when I start looking for appropriate gifts for friends and family. I work out what I think people would like, and what I think they might need. My BF is quite difficult in many ways, as he buys what he needs as soon as he needs it. The trick is to buy him something that he doesn’t realise he needs…but I’ve never really been successful in that…yet!

But, this is also the time of year when I feel guilty and sad. My Gran is in a home in Yorkshire – close to the extended family – where she wanted to be, but no-one is taking her out of the home for Christmas. She’ll be on her own. That’s terrible. No-one cares enough to go get her, spend the day with her and share the family day with my Gran. I wish I lived closer. I would pull the stops out to show her the kind of Christmas that she deserves.

I also feel sad that the family is so spread out. My sister is in Berumda, and my parents are in the North of Scotland. My boyfriend and I live in Surrey. My gut tells me we should go home for Christmas – to Ardchroskie – before it is sold. But, it’s never that easy is it?

I don’t actually know what to do for the best.

My sister (the wise one, you know), says I need to do what’s best for me. But, I’ve never done that.

Next year, Sis and I have a plan to make sure we’re all together somewhere. I hope that will include dear old Gran, but I might be hoping for too much.It depends on a lot. My sister living closer; Ardchroskie not being on the market; BF having a definite answer about the boys; and various sets of parents being fit to travel.

Christmas is such an important family time. It really is…

My Gran (cont)

Some time ago, I created a short post about my Gran – I’ve been up to see her a few times this year and it’s heartbreaking. The dementia has really got a hold. Her epilepsy is under control, though recently it’s been a roller-coaster of seizures and medication changes to control it properly. And, she’s in pain. A lot.

Despite these things, her eyes light up when she sees me and while my time with her is limited, she’s very responsive to memories, photos and discussions when I’m there.

For me, there’s a marked difference every time I see her. This time, we (mum and I) took her to a family Christening – and to our shock she didn’t even recognise her two sons. She got their names wrong. She’s struggling with many members of the family because she doesn’t see them enough to be able to maintain that path of memory.

Dementia is a terrible terrible thing.

I chose not to think of my Gran as she is today – small, frail and confused. I will remember her as the strong matriarch of the family. She was a strong woman – larger than life (so was my Grandad) – loved to eat, loved to cook, loved to care for others, had to be the first to bathe every new born baby, knitted ‘bonnets’ for everyone, instilled in everyone of us a sense of pride in who we were and she was fun. There was always a sparkle in her eyes. A little bit of mischief. And sometimes, a whole lot of mischief!

As a young child, I remember Gran being part of our lives on a regular basis. She and Granddad. I miss being able to play cribbage with her, or Scrabble – played to her and Granddad’s own set of rules – and I miss her energy.

Of my gran

My gran has played a big role in my life. She is a fantastic person, with so much to give, asking very little in return. While I don’t get to see her very much these days – I think of her often. My memories of childhood would be incomplete without her. The items below are from recollections of gran…

Fairy cakes and choclate dipped buns,
Camp coffee with whipped cream
Quality Streets
Scrabble
Cribbage
Queenie for pennies
Patience – so many varieties
Steak and kidney pie
Drinking gravy from a jug from Brid
Werthers
Licorice Allsorts
Pinnies
Yorkshire puddings by the truck load
Proper custard
Sherry trifle
Fish in milk

And so many more things. Today she isn’t well. I hate to say goodbye.

As usual, she manages to make me smile when I say “be good” she replies “and if I can’t, I will be careful”.

Dear Old Gran

The saga continues.

So, Gran has now been in hospital for three weeks. Her health has improved and she’s getting up and around more than she was able to. But, when will she be allowed out?

Social services last week decided that Gran can live on her own. Yes, on her own. This is the wonderful old “Granster” that has 30-45 minute seizures leaving her incapacitated for a day or even days. Living on her own, what would that mean??? So, she has a seizure today, and it takes three of us to lift her into bed, change her, make her comfortable, and then watch over her until she falls asleep (rather than unconscious). Sometimes she doesn’t fall asleep for hours and hours, but doesn’t want to be left alone. We sit with her and hold her hands. Who would do that if she were on her own?

I wrote about quality of life before and how Gran, Mum and Dad have none – none whatsoever. All of the extended family live in Yorkshire – so to get Gran the quality of life, involvement and stimulation she needs, she should be with the family there. But, apparently the only way we can do it, is to put her into her own home – a sheltered home. I’m sorry, but these people in social services have no idea!!

The long and short of it is Mum and Dad are selling up and moving to Yorkshire. Not for them, but for Gran. They are planning to buy a bungalow, and have a wet room installed so that Gran has an easier time getting bathed/washed etc. And, I think they will look at trying to get a hoist of some kind so that they can manage easier after the falls, the seizures and when Gran collapses.

So in three weeks at hospital, the nurses have decided they know what it’s like looking after Gran, and they’ve decided they know what’s best. Social services also seem to know this 88 year old woman well and what’s in her best interests. I think not.

Oh and the cherry on the cake…Mum as carer gets six weeks respite care per year. She was told at the weekend, that because Gran was admitted to and is still in hospital, those weeks count down from the respite number!!! How does that work? Mum has had no respite during that time. The first week was spent worrying that Gran was so ill we had to get the whole family to visit. And for the subsequent weeks, it’s been about making sure Mum gets to the hospital to see Gran everyday, twice a day. What about the worry that the nurses put on Mum at every visit? What about the fact that social services have made Mum’s life hell during the past week? Why is that respite? What a joke.

And poor Dad…what can he do?