Since Christmas, there has been nothing but a relentless string of bad news regarding my grandparents. We’ve all done our best to cope with the situation, but it’s suddenly degenerated into a serious problem in the space of a couple of weeks.
What is clear is that, for years now, my nan has been keeping the situation hidden from us. She must have been struggling for such a long time to keep up appearances that she could look after my grandad and make sure we don’t have to worry about it. She clearly felt it was her duty to do so, being that it was her husband. She couldn’t bring the burden to the wider family.
We all knew things were getting bad. 2011 was difficult on that score. But all of a sudden she just cannot care for him any more. She’s developed a serious problem with her leg, and her arthritis is now excruciating. As such, my grandad has been put in some respite care to give her time to recover, but it’s abundantly clear that even if she does, there will be no possibility of her ever looking after her husband again. He is just too difficult to control.
So this is causing incredible tension in the family. My poor mum, already under stress with her own job, and the difficulty of still having two demanding teenaged children and my 22 year old brother, who is not much help either, all living at home, is now having to deal with this as well. We had a very long conversation on the phone last night, and she agrees, my grandad just cannot return home again.
It is depressing and terrible. I am, in some ways, lucky that I am not at home, and therefore not having to see the daily consequences of this. At the time this makes me feel a bit guilty. Out of sight, out of mind. But, in truth, there’s probably nothing I can do to help except support my mum. My mum, at least, has two brothers and a sister who are useful, and they are all pitching in to some extent to try to give care. But it’s not easy, and requires incredible co-ordination, which means endless phone calls and other delays. And it’s not as if my mum can ever have a quick phone call anyway. That’s starting to get my youngest brother and sister annoyed, because they’re feeling left out of the attention.
It’s just not a good start to the year at all. No one really knows what the next step is, but I know for sure things will never be the same again. And no one’s even thought about how much this could all end up costing. Isn’t society wonderful?