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Posts Tagged ‘family’

  1. Stressss

    July 15, 2014 by superlative

    It only seems like a couple of months ago that my Grandad died. In fact it was more than a year now, and I’m not sure where that time has gone. That was my Dad’s dad, and now a year later it feels like it won’t be long until we lose my Mum’s dad too.

    The same as it was with my Horrible Grandad, my Nice Grandad is nearly 90 now and in the last few months his health has suddenly just started to fail. He’s lived in the same house, the house my Mum grew up in, for something like 60 years, and for the last 30 of those he’s lived alone and managed all by himself. But he just can’t do it any more. Unfortunately he hasn’t wanted to accept that he was starting to need help and starting to need to make changes to his home so he could carry on living there, and now everything has suddenly gone crunch and there’s nothing been put in place to help him. And it’s SO stressful because no one knows what to do for him.

    He lives in Hertfordshire about an hour from my Mum and Dad, and my Mum’s sister lives in Canada. Mum’s obviously ill so can’t do very much, and my Dad is having trouble with his heart again and isn’t meant to be over-exerting himself. So there’s no one really that is very nearby. They knew Grandad was starting to get more frail, so Mum has tried for about a year to convince him to make provision, to get a stairlift and to consider that he might need someone to come in regularly like a carer or district nurse or something to check on him, but he just wouldn’t have any of it.

    And now what’s happened? He can’t really manage the stairs, he can’t clean his house, he can’t get his shopping on his own. He just can’t be on his own really. It’s all deteriorated so quickly. Why does it have to happen like that with old people? They get something wrong with them, and suddenly they get something else too, and something else, and their body just can’t cope. Everything gives way all at once.

    So now I’ve got my Mum on the phone several times a week at the end of her tether with worry about him, and I just don’t know what to say to her. She feels bad because she can’t do more for him, and my aunt feels bad for being so far away and puts pressure on my Mum to do more than she can. I’m about two or three hours from Hertfordshire, so I don’t feel like I can realistically do much myself, and we’re all just talking about how difficult it is and not actually fixing anything.

    I just don’t know what to do. If he won’t even allow them to arrange for a carer or anything, what are we supposed to do? He doesn’t want help even though he needs it, and you can’t force him. You can’t kick his door in and install a stairlift and a carer. We’re all just stuck in a horrible stressful limbo and it feels dreadful.


  2. Relief

    July 19, 2013 by superlative

    My Grandad’s funeral was on Wednesday this week, and after my three weeks of apprehensiveness about it, it ended up being fine. I suspected that might happen – more than once I’ve anticipated things being worse than they actually turn out to be.

    It was boiling hot in London, pushing 90 degrees apparently, which didn’t feel right for a funeral somehow. I drove my Mum and Dad to the ceremony in our (Chris’) car, and thank GOD it has air conditioning because it would have been awful otherwise. It already was not a good day to be wearing a shirt and tie and a black suit, so having to be enclosed in a metal box for half an hour as well would have been too much.

    We only got there about 10 minutes before the ceremony was due to start, and by a weird coincidence ended up following my Grandad’s hearse for the last few minutes. There was no official procession or anything, just the hearse to bring the coffin to the crematorium, because my Grandad didn’t want lots of money wasted on what he regarded as the empty shell he’d leave behind after he’d gone. So it felt quite nice in a way that we ended up creating a mini-procession anyway, even if it was just for half a mile (and even if a Tesco van did end up involved for while).

    It meant there wasn’t a lot of hanging around at the crematorium anyway, which is good because it was the idle chitchat that I was nervous about. I did see my cousins, and they came over and said hello to me and my brother and shook hands and it was all perfectly normal. I didn’t really speak to them beyond that, but my brother did just for a few minutes.

    Then we went into the BOILING ceremony room, which wasn’t very nice because the heat was quite distracting from the proceedings. The ceremony was short but fine, but unfortunately the vicar sort of missed out that my brother was meant to be reading a poem he’d spent ages choosing. So we were a bit confused when suddenly the curtain started closing around the coffin and it was all over, because we were waiting for him to do his bit. In the end she retrieved it when we told her she’d missed my brother (retrieved the situation, I mean; she didn’t go and get the coffin back), and gathered everyone together by the flowers outside and Dave read it there. It was really nice and very fitting for the kind of man my Grandad was, and I was really pleased he did it. It was the only contribution from family, and I don’t think it would have felt very nice if no one had said anything at all.

    Then after a little bit of milling about I escaped with Mum, who was suffering from the heat, and took her home. She was a convenient excuse for me not to have to go back to the wake thing really. I took her back, and my Dad, brother and sister-in-law went off with the other guests for tea and sandwiches or some such thing. I’ve not spoken to my brother yet, but he texted me later and said the afternoon was all fine, so it sounds like there were no arguments or pointed comments or anything like that.  I’m going to try to speak to him later to find out if there was any gossip from it all. So I’m glad anyway, because if it had turned difficult it wouldn’t have been very nice for him or my Dad, or very respectful to my Grandad.

    So that’s it really. All over now. It’s entirely likely I won’t see my cousins or uncle again (I did see my uncle and aunt from a distance, but didn’t pass close enough to them to say hello, so just didn’t end up doing so). We’ve got no real reason to meet up with them now. I suppose there might be another funeral for a family member at some point. But that won’t be for a while (hopefully), and it won’t be the first time I’ve seen them since the ‘outing’ any more so I don’t think I’ll feel so tense about it.

    All the apprehension was pretty much for nothing, but, y’know, I’m a worrier and that’s just what I do…

  3. Apprehension

    July 4, 2013 by superlative

    My Grandad died about a week and a half ago. He was my Dad’s dad, and he died the night before my Dad’s 65th birthday, so it wasn’t the best timing in the world. Saying that though, there probably never is a particularly well timed moment to die.

    He was very old, in his 90s, and not a very well or happy man any more, so it wasn’t unexpected. He’d been in and out of hospital a lot this year and his health was generally failing. He was no longer really well enough to be living in his retirement flat on his own, and I know he would have hated it if he’d been forced to go into a nursing home, so in some ways I’m glad he was spared that. He would also say quite openly that he was fed up and ready to go – that his body ‘just doesn’t work any more’ – so it’s hard to feel sad in that regard. What would the alternative be? To wish him to keep on living while unhappy? He wasn’t going to miraculously become fit and well again. He’d also had to live for something like 18 years without my Gran, who died when I was about 13, and that can’t be very nice. I think he’d wanted to go as soon as she did, and I imagine another 18 years of missing someone was really very difficult.

    So there are lots of things that I’m not sad about.

    There are some other things that do make me sad though, and that make me now feel apprehensive.

    People who have read this blog for a while may have seen me refer to this particular grandad as my ‘Horrible Grandad’. That’s what I used to call him, to differentiate him from my Nice Grandad. Nice Grandad is always warm and pleased to see or speak to me, and never demanding or judgemental or entitled. He’s just pleased if and when you go to see him. Horrible Grandad used to demand people went to see him because it was their duty, and would then proceed to tell you what he didn’t approve of about you and question what you were doing with your life. It didn’t make me want to go and see him, because he wasn’t very nice company.

    He’s also the grandad who I felt didn’t deserve to know me. I wrote a long post about it last year, but basically he hurt me when I was young. He had a long conversation with my uncle in front of me about how proud he was that they’d ‘never had one in the family’, meaning a homosexual, and it was very difficult for me to listen to that as a child who already knew he was gay. From that point on I distanced myself from him emotionally. I decided to punish him by not being close to him and not really caring about him, because I felt that if he knew me properly, if he knew what I was, he wouldn’t care about me.

    That seemed fine to me at the time, but now he’s dead it seems… petty. It began to seem petty last year when my uncle and cousins maliciously outed me to him (see the same previously long post) in order presumably to cause trouble for me or my Dad. I had resolved never to tell him I was gay, and could justify it because I thought he would just react badly and it wasn’t worth it. It was also part of my attempt to punish him for hurting me. When it actually came to it though and I was outed, he reacted more badly to not having been told than to my homosexuality. He said the main thing was that I was happy. And that rather kicked the legs out from underneath my years of secretly punishing him, because it all seemed rather pointless.

    I still know why I did what I did. I’m still angry that he hurt me and made me feel like an outcast from the family, like I was only still there because I could hide what I was. But the fucktard that is hindsight made me think I could have done better by him, and he probably could have done better by me.

    And now I’ve got the funeral coming up in the middle of July, and I’m apprehensive about it. I’ll have to see my uncle and my cousins again, I’ve not spoken to them for years, and there will be the tension of knowing they told Grandad to fuck me over, or used me and who I am to fuck my Dad over. And I don’t know how it’s going to go.

    As I’ve said before, they didn’t actually damage me. In some ways they did me a favour – they removed the need for me to go on lying, and Grandad was very kind to me about it. So I adopted the position that if their intent was to annoy or upset me, they failed, and I’m not going to give them the satisfaction of me being annoyed or upset. Aside from an awkward phone call to my Grandad, my life carried on exactly as before. So they can’t touch me, they didn’t touch me then, and they can’t touch me now.

    I know however that my brother is very annoyed, in reaction to seeing someone try to hurt his brother and his Dad. I think my Dad is annoyed too, but has bitten his tongue on the occasions when he’s had to speak to my uncle since then. Ultimately I don’t want to be the cause of a row at a funeral, and I don’t want to be drawn into one myself.

    It might be fine. I might see them and say hello and not really talk to them. Or I might talk to them and it will be normal and we just won’t mention what happened. I don’t know them any more – I’ve not seen them for 10 years – and I’m only assuming their intent was to cause trouble rather than some bizarre sense of Grandad ‘having a right to know’ or something equally pointless.

    Or it might go badly. They might make a snide comment or ask where Chris is (I’ve asked Chris not to come). Or they might piss my brother or Dad off. It would be a rotten thing to do – it’s a funeral for my Grandad, and it’s not about them or me or anyone else. But I just can’t tell.

    So anyway. The funeral I’ve slightly dreaded for years has finally arrived. It’s on the 17th. I’ll let you know how it goes. Hopefully it will be more BBC and less Jeremy Kyle.

  4. Uncle Superlative post #2

    May 14, 2012 by superlative

    A while ago I wrote excitedly about the fact that Chris’ brother and sister-in-law were going to have a baby, due sometime in May.

    What month is it? May. What am I? AN UNCLE! Woo! Yay me, on doing absolutely nothing and being related by marriage to a child that has been born. I think I deserve quite a pat on the back.

    The baby, Oliver, was born on Friday, only a tiny bit early (a week), and a decent 6lb 4oz. Mother and baby are doing well and they were allowed to go home on Saturday, which I assume means they are both fine healthwise and there was nothing the hospital was worried about.

    I’m really pleased, and particularly relieved because his parents had been a bit anxious during the pregnancy and hadn’t wanted to assume everything was going to be alright just in case it wasn’t. They needn’t have worried, because compared to lots of people I know it seems to have gone without a hitch, and Helen seemed quite hale and hearty throughout.

    I won’t get to see the baby for a couple of weeks, because as I mentioned before they live a few hours away in Wiltshire. Chris’ Mum and Dad are going this week, and we’ll hopefully go during half term at the start of June. Although that’s a little bit longer to wait than I’d have liked, it will at least give me time to shop for awesome outfits for him, such as this which I just found on a website:

    He’s going to be the best dressed baby there ever was. I can totally see myself spending a lot of money on this boy during his life.

    My Mum was pleased to hear all the baby news, but naturally had a bit of a wail about her never having grandchildren of her own. Not surprising at all – most things seem to relate back to her. My brother has apparently talked a little bit again about when he might have children, but it’s still a far-off ‘some day’ kind of proposal, so it sounds like she’s going to have to wait for a bit longer before she gets any, if at all. But at least I’ve got my first nephew now, whichever side of the family he’s on, and that’s all I really care about anyway!

  5. The joys of a harmonious family

    January 30, 2012 by superlative

    I had an interesting evening yesterday.

    Chris and I were away over the weekend at some engagements with his family, so I hadn’t spoken to my Mum for a couple of days (sweet relief). I got home last night and she rang me almost immediately, and I knew as soon as I saw her number on the caller display that it wasn’t going to be because something nice had happened.

    Regular readers of this blog may know who my Horrible Grandad is. He’s my Dad’s Dad anyway, who I don’t see very often, and who I don’t regard as a particularly nice person. He also doesn’t know that I am gay and happily married to a boy. Or rather, he didn’t.

    Some kind person has apparently found photographs of my civil partnership ceremony on the internet, printed them out, and given them to my Grandad. Why anyone would want to do that I really cannot fathom – beyond wanting to cause trouble for me, or for my Dad. Either way, it really wasn’t a very nice thing for them to do.

    My Grandad was apparently furious when my Dad went up for one of his regular Saturday night visits and proceeded to have a massive go at him for not having told him. His view is that he is “the head of the family and has a right to know”. Well first of all, fuck off are you the head of the family you cantankerous old goat, and second of all no you don’t have any right at all to know who or what I enjoy doing in my bedroom.

    My poor Dad was obviously taken completely unawares, but couldn’t deny it by that point, and could only say that he hadn’t told him because I’d instructed him not to because I didn’t want to upset him. Not that I give two fucks about upsetting my Grandad, but yes that was probably the right thing to say given the circumstances.

    There really aren’t that many people in the world who could have done this, or who would have wanted to. Hardly anyone knows both me and my Grandad and would have any reason to want maliciously to out me to him. I can only think that it was either one of my cousins, or my aunt (their mother), or my uncle (my Dad’s brother), or some combination of those people.

    We don’t get on hugely well with that side of family, but I haven’t actually seen most of them for years. I don’t think I’ve seen my cousins since my Gran died about 15 years ago, and I’ve only seen my aunt and uncle maybe once or twice in that time. My brother and my Dad have seen them occasionally, but I’ve missed a couple of occasions where I would have seen them, and those have been few and far between. My Dad obviously speaks to his brother sometimes, especially when my Grandad isn’t well.

    Before my Gran died we used to see them quite often, and ostensibly we got on fine. They’ve never done anything bad to me, and I’ve never done anything bad to them – we just weren’t hugely close. But at some point in the past we failed to go to my Aunty Sue’s 50th birthday party (that’s the aunt in question), and this was perceived as a huge slight. That was AGES ago, I can’t even remember if it was before or after my Gran died. But anyway, they took that badly, and I think Sue blamed my Mum for us not going, and we have never been forgiven since. I’ve definitely seen my Aunty Sue more recently than that at a party, and everything was fine and friendly, but without my Gran holding us together the two halves of the family drifted quickly apart.

    It must have been one of them that did this though, it really must have been, because there just isn’t anyone else who would care, and who would risk giving my Grandad a heart attack just to create problems for us.

    I feel very bad for my Dad, because he’s the one who got it in the neck, and that isn’t fair. My parents asked me several times to tell my Grandad about the gayness, because they found it awkward having either to lie or to feign ignorance if he enquired after my love life or anything like that. I always refused, because I don’t like him, and I didn’t want him to know.

    When I was about 12 or so, I had to sit through my Grandad and my uncle having a conversation where my Grandad described how proud he was “never to have had one in the family”. I knew what he was talking about, and I knew what I was at that age. So at that point I resolved I would never tell him, not because I didn’t want to disappoint him, but because I felt that if that was his attitude then he didn’t deserve to know me. And I stuck to that decision for 18 years even though I knew it was unfair on my parents to make them lie.

    After my Gran died he became quite old and quite frail very quickly, and so I suppose I was just waiting for him to die. It was never worth telling him, because he might not have been with us for very long – that was my thinking. He’s hung on though, for 15 long years, and now it’s all come out anyway.

    I spoke to my Dad after I had spoken to my Mum and I apologised for putting him in that position. My Dad is never cross with me anyway, not ever, so he of course said not to worry about it, bless him.

    I had a little bit of a think about it after I had spoken to them, and in the end I decided the only reasonable thing I could do was ring my Grandad and speak to him. He’d expect it (he expects a lot of things), and I had to divert attention away from my Dad and make clear that him not being told was my decision not Dad’s. It also seemed the only adult thing to do – otherwise what was I going to do? Never speak to him again? Pretend nothing had happened next time I saw him? I had no choice really.

    So I rang him, and to my shame he was very good about it with me. I told him I was ringing to apologise for not having told him sooner (although I’m not actually sorry, but whatever) and that it was because I hadn’t wanted to upset him (also untrue). He said that it was good of me to ring, and that the most important thing for him was that I am happy. That’s obviously a really nice thing for him to say, and is not at all the reaction I had expected from him, and it made me feel that yes I could have told him before and it would probably have been OK. But that’s the hard thing – you never KNOW how someone will react until it’s too late, and then it’s too late to take it back. So I know why I didn’t tell him, even if it now transpires that I probably could have done.

    He didn’t seem to want to talk for long, but he often doesn’t on the phone and he’ll just say OK bye and hang up when he’s had enough. Which is what he did more or less, but he was generally very kind to me and not mean at all. I suppose I knew that if he had been horrible to me I could just never have spoken to him again, and that emboldened me to make the phone call, but he wasn’t and it was fine. I hope he’ll now leave off my Dad a bit about it.

    My brother is apparently furious that someone has been so malicious, but personally I really don’t feel that bothered about it now. I hardly see my Grandad, and I never see my cousins. That they know I’m gay now doesn’t affect my life directly. My Grandad seems to be OK about it more or less (aside from not being told), and so in some ways they’ve done me a favour. If I get all irate about it, all I’m doing is letting them win by upsetting me. So no, I don’t really care all that much.

    It may be awkward if and when my Grandad dies and I have to see that side of the family again at the funeral. Part of the reason I didn’t want them to know was that I couldn’t stand the thought of them looking down on me for being gay when really they have nothing, NOTHING they can look down on me about. Their family is a mess, my uncle has run my Grandad’s business into the ground, and my cousins are fuck ups. They really shouldn’t be looking down on me for anything, but they might for this, and I find that prospect annoying. I’m not going to worry about that too much though – my Grandad is apparently immortal, so I’ll only concern myself with seeing them once it happens.

    And even though they may try, they can’t actually make me feel bad about being gay – no more than they can about me being male, or being white. I know what I am, I love what I am, I have a great life and I enjoy myself living it. So they can try to stir up trouble all they want, but in the end they can’t touch me.

  6. Home for Christmas

    December 23, 2011 by superlative

    We’re off back up to Essex and London tomorrow to spend Christmas with our mummies and daddies. As always it’s going to be a bit of a whirlwind of rushing about to see all sorts of different people, which is a bit of a shame because it ends up being more about ‘seeing’ as many people as possible, instead of actually enjoying  it. I’ll have to look at Austin Drage in a santa hat for a while to console myself.

    The same as last year, I’ll be spending Christmas day up at Chris’ Mum’s house and my parents are going to come for lunch for a few hours. It seemed to work pretty well last year and it meant that Mum and Dad had more of a proper Christmas than they would if they just sat at home. It also means that I won’t have to travel on Christmas Day (the only day between now and Wednesday that I won’t be driving anywhere), and once Mum and Dad go home I’ll be able to relax properly! I did find it a bit stressful having them there last year, because Mum has the potential to be so difficult, but it turned out fine that time and they were just grateful to be invited somewhere. They don’t actually have any friends, which is a bit weird really!

    Then on Boxing Day I’ll be seeing my horrible grandad for lunch, which I’ll hate, and I’ll have to remember to take my wedding ring off and dodge any questions about my home life. It’s such a chore. I’m sure he’ll also mention that he only sees me once a year on Boxing Day now, but, well… there’s a reason, and it’s because he’s not a very nice man.

    For the first Christmas in my life I won’t be seeing my brother at all as he has gone away on holiday. Lucky him – I’m quite jealous that he doesn’t have to bother with all the enforced family engagements.

    Other than that I’ll just be trolling up and down between Chris’ Mum’s and my Mum’s houses, seeing friends in the evening, and stuffing my fat face with Christmas food. It could be worse really, I shouldn’t grumble!

    Then we’re back to Brighton next week for New Year and some much needed peace and quiet.

    Ryan Phillippe wishes you all a very merry and partially-clad Christmas:

    UPDATE TO THIS POST: Dad has been suspended from his job for gross misconduct. Hmmmm, so this is going to be a fab Christmas of frosty atmospheres and snippy passive aggressive comments from Mum, isn’t it?? Jesus Christ… I might just rock up drunk and try to stay pissed all the way through until Tuesday. I can’t see how else I’m going to get through it. God I love my parents’ gypsy curse, it makes my time at home feel so MAGICAL.

  7. Uncle Superlative

    November 9, 2011 by superlative

    I’m going to be an uncle!

    As I have previously mentioned on here, the likelihood of me having my own children is pretty low (because I hate them), but what I would like to be is a really good uncle. Obviously when I say I hate children I don’t actually hate them, but they are quite annoying and I would far prefer a child that I can give back after a couple of hours. But this has been dependent on either my brother having a baby, which I don’t think he’s ever going to do, or Chris’ brother having one.

    And now, AT LAST, one of them is! It’s Chris’ brother, obviously, and his wife is presumably fairly involved in the process too. They let us know a couple of weeks ago, but we were strictly sworn to secrecy because they hadn’t had their 12 week scan yet and they don’t want to jinx anything or get ahead of themselves.

    They had their 12 week scan on Saturday, and all is going well so far, so hopefully sometime in May I will be Uncle Superlative.

    I’m quite excited, because although we have friends who have had babies, it’s just not the same as one in your own family and who you consider yourself actually related to. This child will hopefully grow up loving me, and me them, and that will be really very special to me. I want to be a really fun uncle that they look forward to seeing (note to self – order swimming pool and put deposit down on a pony).

    The only thing that could be slightly better is that Chris’ brother lives three hours away in Wiltshire, so I won’t get to see them quite as often as I might like. We’ll just have to make the effort to go and visit though, and not be lazy about it, because if we want the child to grow up knowing us it’ll be up to us to ensure it happens.

    They don’t know if it is a boy or a girl, and they’re choosing not to find out. Personally I know I’d be better with a boy because I’d know what to do with a boy more (that sounds wrong), but for some reason I feel like it’s a girl. Well I’ll have to wait and see, won’t I?

    I’m very excited anyway, and will be shopping for kick ass tiny T-shirts after Christmas.

  8. Slow walking and slow wheeling

    October 28, 2011 by superlative

    OK, so after my ranting my weekend was actually not too bad. We managed to do some nice things, and even though it was quite different with Chris’ Mum and Nan there (and annoying at times), we did still have fun.

    We had the first 24 hours just with my brother- and sister-in-law (does she count as a sister-in-law to me? His wife anyway), so that was nice and relaxed and we did some fun things. We played crazy golf on the seafront, which I always enjoy rather too much and a lot more than I’m expecting to, and I had an amazing meal in a restaurant round the corner from here. If you’re local and you haven’t tried it before, you really should go to Twenty Four St Georges Restaurant in Kemp Town. I’ve been there a few times now and it’s just lovely; this time I gorged myself on squash risotto and the most delicious plaice with mushroom ravioli. Just gorgeous.

    Then we had a very hurried trek about on top of windy Devil’s Dyke the next morning, before hurrying back into town to meet our older visitors. And then everything started to move veeeeeerrrry sloooooooowwwwwwly. I love them to bits, but my GOD how long can it take to walk from Churchill Square to the pier? 40 minutes?? Really?! It’s just bonkers. You can fly to Paris in 40 minutes.

    The absolute best part of the weekend though was when all six of us went on the newly opened Brighton Wheel. It’s kind of like the London Eye but a lot smaller, and they’ve just thrown it up next to the pier. They weren’t entirely sure when it was going to open – I think they were waiting for some final permission or something – but then suddenly it was open and going round and round with people on it on Saturday so we thought we’d give it a go. And it was great!

    You don’t have to book, it’s not busy enough for that yet, so you just stroll straight up and pay your money and get on. It has about 20 or 30 pods big enough for six adults, so we had one all to ourselves, and I think we happened to go at one of the best times because the sun was just starting to set. You get nice views of the two piers and down the coast in either direction, and a bit of a view of the town, but that’s not so interesting to look at. We went round four times over about 15 minutes and got some lovely photos, and I really, really enjoyed it. I know some people don’t approve of the Wheel much and think it is a bit of an eyesore, but I really liked it.

    Since the weekend I’ve unfortunately had a cold, after having a glorious few months free of illness. So I’m stuffed up and fed up at home right now, watching rubbish television with a blanket on my legs (I actually am – it’s green and gloriously soft). I’m also brooding a bit about my career, or lack of, and wondering what to do about it. I need a new job I think, because I’m so horribly unfulfilled right now, but I just can’t think what or how to make a leap and do something else. I watched The Social Network last night and realised that Mark Zuckerberg has all the money in the world AND is three years younger than me, and it made me quite sad about not having achieved very much. I could have been anything, could have done anything! But I ended up with so many options that I basically did nothing and suddenly I’m 30.

    So hmmm to that. I’ll have to give it some more thought, and then probably do nothing a bit more, and whinge about it periodically. So look forward to that, won’t you? It’ll be marvellous.

  9. Gatecrashing relatives

    October 20, 2011 by superlative

    Well I did have nice plans for this weekend, but now I haven’t any more.

    We invited Chris’ brother and his wife to come and stay with us for the weekend, because we haven’t seen them for ages and we get on really well with them. They like Brighton too, and there are lots of things we haven’t managed to do with them on past visits that we thought we’d make up for this time. Nice little things like go up for a walk on Devil’s Dyke so they can see the views, maybe drive over to Lewes for a mosey about, play crazy golf on the sea front, go out for dinner. You know, normal things that people enjoy.

    Except now we can’t do half of them and I’m annoyed.

    Chris’ Mum (whom I love, don’t get me wrong) rather weirdly decided on Tuesday that she’d maybe get the train down and join us for a meal.

    Hmm, OK, if she really wants to, Chris and I thought. It’s quite a long way from Essex to Brighton for a meal though.

    “Oh and Nanny too. I’ll bring Nanny.”

    Riiiiight. OK.

    “Hmm, but it’s quite a long way isn’t it? I’ll see if there are any cheap hotel deals and we could stay overnight.”

    Erm, sorry?

    And now it’s booked, AND she’s suddenly decided they’ll need one of us to pick them up from the station.

    At what point were they even invited? AT NO POINT is the answer. Chris only saw her a week ago!

    And now the whole weekend of nice things like drinking wine with friends and going for walks and sitting up late has been thrown entirely out the window and has turned into a chore weekend of entertaining Chris’ Mum and Nan.

    We can’t do most of what we want to do because a) they can’t walk very far [one has had a double hip replacement, the other is 80], and b) when they do walk anywhere it is SO SLOW that we’re basically stationary. I only have to LEAN FORWARDS slightly to keep up with them, I don’t even have to move my fucking feet.

    So trekking about on Devil’s Dyke then having a drink in the pub? No.

    Playing crazy golf? No.

    Playing board games in the evening? No. (They can’t hear anything or understand the rules of any games)

    Going for nice meals out? No. (Nanny doesn’t like foreign muck, it doesn’t agree with her)

    So what exactly are we doing? Sitting on the sofa, all six of us, having a cup of tea and saying “Well this is nice isn’t it?”

    NO IT’S NOT.

    I know I sound really horrible, but his Mum and Nan have already been to visit twice since we moved and that was only three months ago. And they weren’t invited! It’s just rude! They’ve just muscled in and turned someone else’s weekend away into their weekend away.

    So I’m fed up, and Chris is quietly furious. Which means both of us are going to be touchy all weekend and we just want to cancel the whole thing. I hope that tunnel between London and Brighton collapses again so they can’t come. Selfish people.

  10. I don’t know what to do

    February 2, 2011 by superlative

    My Grandad is quite ill suddenly. He’s been suffering from bad back pain, caused by something but we don’t know what, and his doctor has been calling it arthritis. The last time he went to see his doctor he didn’t even bother to examine him and just gave him a third type of painkiller to take on top of all the other things he’s already taking, and told him to come back in a month. It hasn’t worked though and he’s still in so much pain that he can’t sleep, he’s struggling to move around his house, and he can’t stand in the kitchen to cook for himself very easily.

    This is my Nice Grandad, by the way, the one who is the BFG, not my Horrible Grandad about whom I would say it couldn’t happen to a nicer person.

    So anyway, it has basically become very difficult for him to look after himself effectively, which is not good news when you are 83 and live alone.

    His neighbours, who occasionally do things for him and who keep an eye on him, in a bizarre decision chose to phone my aunt in CANADA yesterday to say ‘we think you better come over, he needs someone to be with him to look after him’. So of course she then gets on the phone in a flap to my Mum wanting to know what’s going on.

    My Mum was aware that he’d been getting worse not better, and had only spoken to him the day before when he had appeared to be feeling a bit better again. She’s been trying to get him to go to the doctor again and ask for a proper examination, but he hates going to the doctor and he’s worried he’ll be sent to hospital which he hates even more. He doesn’t trust hospitals at all, not least because my Nan died in one on the day she was due to be sent home when they thought she was all better again (this was years and years ago when I was a baby; he’s lived on his own ever since).

    So anyway, now Mum’s in a bit of a flap. Her cousin Jean, who lives an hour away, is meant to be going round there today to get his prescriptions and some shopping for him, and he’s been waiting for her to come so she can either go to the doctor with him or be there if he gets the doctor out for a home visit. We think he’ll be more comfortable doing that if he’s not on his own, so he’s been sticking it out until today when she can come.

    He lives in Hitchin, which is quite far from my parents, and my Mum isn’t sure what else she can do. She can’t go and look after him herself because of her illness. She can’t have him down to stay at her house for the same reason, and I’m almost certain he would refuse to come anyway (this is what she thinks my aunt was angling for). My Dad can go up and visit him and do some small jobs for him, but he can’t stay up there for all that long because he needs to look after Mum and it’s not his own dad.

    So I’m left thinking should I be offering to go up there and stay with him for a while? I don’t want to, I really don’t want to, because as much as I love him I don’t know what I’d do to look after him. I only see him about once a year, probably less than that, and I’m fond of him but don’t know him well in the way that people who see their grandparents all the time do. We’re not a close knit family (Chris would postulate this is because my Mum is horrible to everyone and cite the fact they have no friends as additional evidence, but that’s a discussion for another time). But we are family, he is my Grandad, and I don’t like to think of him suffering and being on his own. If I went, I could at least do his shopping and cook his meals (despite my generally shitty cooking skills) and help him move around, which would take some of the pressure off him.

    Chris said to me “If you were old and ill, would you want your family to come and help you?” and of course yes I would. If I had children or a grandson I’d like to think they’d help me and not leave me to it. So I feel I should offer, even while not wanting to, because that’s what family does.

    I’m not sure he would have me, even if I ask. He’s like that, he’ll just refuse because he’s a cantankerous old sod sometimes and he won’t have people going out of their way for him or buying him Christmas presents or interfering with the way he wants to do things. He’ll put up with it from my aunt because she’s his youngest daughter, but he just says no to anyone else.

    And also I feel like why the fuck does it fall to me AGAIN to sort people out? I always pick up the slack, shoulder the extra bit of burden, and try to help everyone else. Where’s my brother in all of this? He won’t offer to go, of course he fucking won’t. He’ll say he can’t get out of work. He won’t even think to offer.

    And what would I do all day at his house? It’s not a nice place because he stopped cleaning properly years ago. And I’d be there on my own ALL the time. And I don’t know how long for either – he may not get any better. He may ALWAYS need help with stuff from now on. And if they try to move him to a care home he’ll point blank refuse and disengage from any kind of support service. He still has all his faculties, so he can’t be forced to go.

    So fuck. FUCK. I don’t know what to do.

    I’m going to see what happens with Jean today, and see if there’s more that the doctor can do for him. I haven’t mentioned to Mum yet that I’m considering offering to go. I don’t know what she’ll say if I do. Fuck. Shitty start to the day.