Not even sure what to call this one …


Christmas this year was always going to be a little strange. No Jack who is still in Nepal. A slight sense of relief that the mad week of Isabel turning 18 is all over (it all went so well …), and the relief that comes with the end of a pretty busy work year. Working right up to 3pm Christmas Eve meant hardly any time for prep in a way….so how did it all go??

Christmas Eve was joy…a gin and tonic, last minute wrapping and home made pizza.

Christmas Day started at around 8.30 with Carl, Iz and me in our big bed drinking tea and unwrapping gifts. I ended up staying in bed, grabbed some fresh fruit salad, more tea, my ipad and some knitting, and there I stayed until after 11…just bliss. I then got up and did some leisurely cooking – making a puy lentil salad, a Turkish green bean salad and some gingerbread made with fresh ginger and molasses! We had a late lunch of ham and salads with Iz and Philip, and then Carl and I took the dogs out on Mt Ainslie for a walk. After that we drove over to see Carl’s mum. Margaret had decided to stay put at her home all day because she is having such dreadful problems with fatigue and nausea as she changes rheumatoid arthritis medication. It is hard seeing her so wane and tired. We stayed for a while and Glenn and Claire also came over, so that was all good, if not a little poignant. Hard seeing someone who has always had such energy, just seem so still and pale…

We got home about 8pm and had a kilo of the meatiest Crystal Bay prawns – nothing with them, just sat down, shelled and ate prawns and drank beer. There was some silliness with a fake mustache that was in a Christmas cracker (we didn’t even buy crackers, but had two crackers leftover from Rhonda). And it was silly and relaxing and kind of nice, just being with Iz and Carl. Iz is jokingly referred to as the spoilt, indulged only child while Jack is overseas. But a different Christmas day to those past…

Today – Boxing Day was our day trip to Bowral for lunch of Christmas leftovers with mum and dad and Sarah, Chas and Alex. I took the dogs for a walk up the mountain – did the maze walk – and was again relieved that the maze was intact. The slope was just full of yellow daisies. We set off late morning to Bowral with salads, gingerbread and a bag of presents. When we got to Bowral we walked in, dad was sitting watching the cricket – which he turned off, and mum wasn’t immediately around. I have never seen mum so angry – she walked past saying – “I’ve been in pain 24/7 for years”, “no-one cares”, “I’ve been in pain for 30 years” (a reference to a bad ankle break that has resulted in a couple of operations to pin, and then plate the ankle, and now recurrent swelling, pain and arthritis.). She was trying to do a whole lot of things at once and crying and being angry and upset and I could hardly believe it. She went off into her bedroom and after a little while (I left her as she asked) – I went in and had a big chat to her….She is both depressed and tired – trying to do everything which includes doing things that dad normally does around the house. We had always planned that the day would be quite relaxing, with us all just bringing leftovers and sharing a meal. I think the last straw as she explained it was when she tried to fill the pepper grinder and her shaking hands meant that she spilled peppercorns all over the kitchen….The everyday is so freaking hard when you are shaking with every move.

Sarah, Chas and Alex arrived soon after and I quickly explained  what was going on. Sarah also had a good talk with mum, stressing that we need to remember the good times. But it’s hard. Sometimes it just seems like platitudes which of course it’s not, but I mean what do you say to someone who has seen two of her children die?

So after a shaky start, we had a bottle of Verve Cliquot with presents and then had lunch. All OK in the end but still, we are home now and I am just feeling so powerless in a way, what to do? Mum is clearly depressed, not handling things – for example although she says she is doing everything, she brings up reasons and excuses why she can’t get a cleaner. At one stage I actually thought- is she jealous that dad is getting all the attention (health wise??), But it’s not just one thing, it’s a combination of many things…I remember when Jem was ill that he found her negativity to be an issue. She is quick to find fault or to be negative. That has worsened with age, more a glass half empty view on life…But she has a heart of gold, still visits more elderly people, is actively involved in church (although can’t attend as an elder due to her tremour – which is worsening…), and would do anything for anyone really…And Jem also explained it to me that she is probably suffering from mild dementia…just age. In some ways she is a mass of love and contradictions, and a weary & sore body, grief and depression. Is it a fear of losing control? Being scared about things changing?

[A recap on dad…because of course I should look back over old posts and see what I have already explained, but…About a month ago dad had some dreadful pain in his left hip. It was first diagnosed as osteo arthritis, and he started on a course of physio and exercises but was using a walking frame to get around- which was very strange to see. Dad has always walked, often just goes out for a walk – so seeing him using a walker was quite confronting in a way. Anyway after a couple of weeks he had a bone scan that showed that it may be a stress fracture and he was told to immediately stop the exercises! He had an MRI about 10 days ago, and was rushed into hospital and operated on that evening- they have pinned his femur near the top of the hip. He was up and walking the next day and I spent last weekend with them, and Sarah went up just after the operation. All good- the bones will take 8 weeks to knit properly and he will take 6 months all up to hopefully walk again properly and not use the walker. We just have to see. He is 84 and his bone density is not good after all the radiotherapy when he had prostate cancer (which all looks good by the way). But he only got out of hospital on the Monday afternoon before Christmas, so just wanted a few quiet days at home…hence the Boxing Day plans]

I have spoken to mum since we got home. Sarah are I have texted each other…but what to do?

Ageing is messy. Families are messy. Life is messy.

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