Saturday, 4 April 2015

Slipping under the covers


It would be a lie if I were to say that I have had a very close relationship with my nan. I'm not someone who posts on social media how amazing she is or how inspiring she has been to me but nonetheless, she is family and someone I hold close to my heart. She is the last of my grandparents and there is a peculiar realisation that she is the last of my parent's parents.

Cranmer Court, Warlingham, SurreyToday I made the far too rare visit to see her in the home she is now unfortunately stuck in. It has all the elements to be a lovely, warm and friendly care home. It is situated in picturesque countryside, appears to be large and warm looking and has the ever so fitting name of 'Cranmer Court'. It is a very stereotypical care home and as far as I know, has no faults apart from the odd tinge of urine in the air, something that cannot be helped with occupants that live there.

In her own room by the garden is my poor and physically restricted nan, lying in bed as she does every day. Her company comes in the odd family member, nurse or the birds feasting outside on the seeds purchased by the in-laws. Often or not those who come to visit come in 2s or more. This is not because of nan's popularity but due to her condition, there has to be a conversation she can listen to rather than one she can participate in.

I went today with my mother and met my uncle and aunty there. We discussed the usual ins and outs of everyday life. 'How's uni?' one way. 'How are the cousins' the other. This chit chat lasted a little while but inevitably the chatter simmered down to silence and I found myself focusing more on nan. It felt to me as if in the last 5 times I have come to visit she has slipped lower and lower into the bed. Her facial expression has over time changed from awareness of conversation to a flat faced, squint eyed glare at the ceiling. Almost as if the world was nothing but a fragment of her imagination and the heartache of losing her husband of 59 years 5 years prior being her own reality. Frustration of her condition has been often discussed throughout the family and her lack of effort in trying to pick herself up emotionally being the main reason of her inevitable vegetable state.

There can be the argument that she has not indeed helped herself but it is important to state she does have parkinsons disease and this has been a major factor in her physical decline. However, regardless of her physical state, she had lost her absolute other half. There cannot be anything worse than losing your stability and balance that you gain with someone else over such a huge time frame. You would not expect a man to run with one leg taken away when he had ran with two for 59 years. This was her state but not only had she forgotten to run but lost the ability to walk through life. She has limped her way through last five years to now and it is absolutely impossible to consider her situation. She is part of a generation whereby you didn't divorce at first sign of trouble but learnt to adapt to their faults and live by them. That you would understand that life is not always about being happy but contempt with being solid with another.

I have to admit I did pity her. I was in no position to empathise and I had no wish to put myself in a position where I had to think about living 60 years with someone for them to be gone in a blink. She has had to go through an ordeal I hope I never have to endure but hope to understand. I hope to be with someone as close as that for such a time that I can claim I have had a relationship through everyone of life's ups and downs. She might not have been a huge part of my life but when I sit there looking at her, her pain shows to me how amazing it must be to be anothers true life partner. With her pain shows true happiness before.

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