Friday, 17 December 2010

Things I hope my Grandmother hasn't taught me

My son and I are currently in the UK, staying with my parents. My husband's flying in tomorrow for Christmas. We can't wait.

Yesterday, we all went up to the north of England to visit family there, including a visit to see my Grandmother, who hadn't yet had a chance to meet my son, her third great-grandchild.

Those who've read my blog for a while will remember this post about a trip I made to see her just before I moved out to the Middle East. It was a lovely visit, one I will always remember.

Sadly, yesterday was a day I'd rather forget. Mum had been telling me for some time that my Grandma's attitude had deteriorated. She has always had a rather selfish, stubborn personality, but this seems to have got worse and worse over the last ten years or so. Added to this, she also seems to have become very paranoid. And, as I mentioned in my previous post, she's a wily old bird, but she's putting this to bad use now, unfortunately.

At 95, she's still living in her own home. The problem is, she's finding it harder to look after herself, but continually refuses to pay for the care she needs, insisting her two daughters (one of whom is my Mother, who lives 2 and a half hours away) should be doing it instead. She continually claims to be lonely, but refuses to be picked up to visit family members, has refused an invite for Christmas Day, and won't even countenance visiting a local day centre (not HER sort of people or HER sort of food, apparently!)

When we saw her yesterday, I started trying to have a nice chat with her, but instead of responding in kind, she laid into me for not phoning her when I'm visiting the UK. I tried explaining how busy and overwhelmed I am when I visit, but instead, she then said "Yes, well at the moment, your life is full. But you wait until you're old and nobody cares about you, your husband has died and your son has left home, and you're all alone, and then you'll know how I feel". Oh, tidings of comfort and joy, indeed...

She complains nobody visits her enough. Well, it's clearly not surprising when she's so horrendously unpleasant. The sad thing is that if she wanted company, fun, laughter and family, she could have it in abundance! Comparisons with Scrooge come to mind...

So, I really hope that if I have the honour of getting to her age (she also told me I might get lucky and die before her age! Briliant!) I hope I manage to keep my ability to wish joy for other people, and find joy all around me. Because, if she even tried to look for it, it's definitely there.


  1. That seems a little bit harsh. My grandmother says some similar things at times, but I think people of that generation struggle to empathise with a world outside of their comfort zone. Maybe she was having a bad day? My grandma tells me how depressed she is that all of her peers have passed away. It must be depressing and depression can do weird things to people.

    My father has said some awful things to me over the past month, I was actually reduced to tears at one point, as he accused me of "trying to trap him in hospital like a prisoner because I had him exactly where I wanted him." I was trying to talk sense to him, but he was literally venemous. The nurse said to him "look Mr X you've upset your daughter" and he belittled me...

    Later that day however, a family friend who visited Dad called me to tell me that he had been crying and was devastated that he'd upset me, and that as he was writhing around in pain on the bed, he was calling out my name.

    My heart broke when I heard that. Try not to judge too hastily. Dying is a terrifying prospect, and people who feel that death is near often lash out at their nearest and dearest. A friend of mine is a counsellor said that she advises people not to take things said in those moments too seriously.

    Perhaps in a somewhat ineffective way, she was telling you that she loves you and misses you and that she wishes she could see or hear more of you. We all have bad days- well, we both know I do ;)

    Forever is a long time to live with regrets

  2. Partner, thanks very much for taking the time to write that long, considered comment.

    I've been following your news on your blog about your Dad - I'm so sorry to hear about his health. You've had a pretty awful year or two.

    I agree about not judging too hastily - however unfortunately the stuff I've blogged about is the icing on the cake - she's also been overtly racist recently to carers, threatened my mother, etc. Not nice.

    Having said that - I won't let the way she's behaving now spoil my memories of her as she was, and I'm proud to say I managed to smile throughout our last meeting and gave her a kiss and cuddle when I left. I've no doubt she's now suffering from some sort of dementia (and her Doctor agrees). It's so tremendously sad.

    Anyhow, thanks for commenting, and I hope that 2011 brings better things for you and your family.




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