Week Sixteen

Sunday now feels strange. I have a new era to begin and a new path to determine. There is a lot to tidy up: Family to inform; name-tags to sew in and more stuff to take to Mum; financial assessments to undergo again; change of addresses to notify various institutions of; visiting routines to establish; my doubts and guilt to allay; my path to find…

We start with name-tags, delivery of pads and clothes, and repeat prescriptions to order and deliver. I also have to take Mum for her routine 6 monthly check-up at the dentist.

She was not so positive today. I was greeted with a peeved, “There you are!”

In the car and in the waiting room she asked me repeatedly what we were doing. She only had to have her teeth cleaned. It’s amazing how her teeth have survived so well. She enjoyed the walk around and chat and was happy when I mentioned getting back for lunch, but when she was seated at the table at Broad Glade and I said I’d see her ‘tomorrow or Wednesday’, she looked surprised and disappointed. I kissed her and left, but felt like I’d given the betrayer’s kiss.

I doubt myself again. Am I doing the right thing? Everyone I’ve told thinks it is the best thing and many say how well I’ve done to look after her so well for so long, but… I couldn’t sleep last night. I just sobbed. The phone keeps ringing today and I won’t answer it. I feel very low and lost.

***

The Social Worker phoned yesterday and said that Broad Glade would be doing an assessment over these six weeks, before the permanent place becomes official. Apparently they have said that Mum has deteriorated more than they had thought, since Christmas. The Social Worker expressed concern that we may have to find somewhere else for Mum.

I took Conor to see Nana on Wednesday after school. Conor did his bit admirably and knew it. He made Nana laugh so much, making the same jokes, over and over, about her looking like a pink marshmallow in her pink coat and soft pink hat. We walked and went for some hot chocolate. I noticed that Mum has special cutlery at her place in the dining hall and a special large bib/apron for mealtimes. She was in good form before we left and so were we. I took her CD player and a selection of her favourite Rock and Roll and Country music. Conor and Mum had a jive before we left. I was very grateful for his support.

I do wonder how she is when we’ve left and whether she gets more confused and anxious afterwards. I don’t really know how often I should visit her at the moment, for Mum or for me.

***

On Saturday I phoned Broad Glade and they were very supportive. They said they will monitor Mum’s mood after we’ve been, to see whether there is any detrimental (or positive) impact from our visits. I felt much better and arranged to pick her up and walk over to Mass for 6.30pm. It was a special Mass where Joshua made his initial vows as part of his Confirmation preparation. Mammy seemed very content and independently asked if she could come to Joshua’s Confirmation day. Back at Broad Glade, they brought Mum a drink of tea and a sandwich for her supper. The tea was in a two-handled, toddler style beaker to avoid spillage. I wondered if she minded.

This is a waiting period. My moods are all over the place. After only 14months in our home, I feel like a part of me is missing. Like I have lost or forgotten something. If only I was confident that Mammy was happy there…

There is so much happening for us as a family, which I can at least attend to with greater freedom.

What is my purpose, my role now?

After this 6-week assessment period, what will happen?

If she can stay permanently in Broad Glade, what should I do next? They have already stopped my ‘Carer’s Allowance’,such as it was, and as soon as she’s offered a permanent place, there will be a financial assessment and the DLA will stop. Apparently, I will have to pay for these 6 weeks in Broad Glade as well.

It also seems that I have to find some means of contributing to the finances, to balance the books and to get me back into the world of employment. I know that I have much to offer, but I don’t have much strength or confidence at the moment.

***

Julia went to see Mum on Monday. She seemed shocked at Mum’s deterioration, but she likes the home. She said that Mammy didn’t recognise her, but guessed that Julia might be her ‘daughter’. She hasn’t seen her since last August, so that may explain some of it. Apparently Mum kept saying that she was ‘so bored’.

She repeated that “Dawn’s not been to see me…not since she’s been looking after that old lady”. How interesting. I wonder whether the ‘old lady’ is herself or Pat?

I also phoned the home (Julia is the only other person to have visited Mum apparently) and they said that Mum had been crying in frustration at not being able to do anything.

I took Mum out into town, past her old shop and recalled her Tuesday ‘wholesalers’ days’ when we would traipse through town with Mum’s big red suitcase and Mum would purchase things for the shop. We headed for ‘Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem’ and had refreshments there, then explored the castle grounds. Spring is delicately announcing her arrival up there, with discreet displays of snowdrops and crocuses. We took the opportunity to hug a few trees and Mum and I had to link arms to give a huge trunk a proper hug. She was impressed by the panoramic skyline and wonderful view of the city, but was afraid of the height at which we stood and panicked about falling off. It was beautiful up there with her. She enjoyed the atmosphere in ‘Starbucks’ too and didn’t mind that I had to feed her with the ciabatta and coffee. She seemed very alert today, but getting back into the car she seemed confused as to what we were doing and why. I felt guilty again.

***

Sunday was my birthday and, double whammy, Mothering Sunday. After a lie-in, I opened my cards and then picked up Mum to go out for the day. It has been 30 years since I was last at Wollaton Park. It is a beautiful place. Mammy found the stairs difficult and didn’t really see a lot in the Hall; she was flustered, although she did make the right noises when I pointed out the stuffed birds and animals. Again, outside she appreciated the full-scale panoramas, the trees, the lake and the deer. And the chocolate cake, of course.

***

Today I phoned Aunty Monica. I knew she was sad that the time had come to put Mum into a home. She said that I had to put my “husband and children first”, but I feel she was disappointed. In her opinion, the carers at Broad Glade don’t speak much to the residents and the “other residents all doze off”. I know she will visit her though. I also wrote to inform Mum’s friend, Tony. I know he will be sad too. It is difficult to disappoint others who love Mammy. Disappointment hangs over me!

***

How has my life at home has been impacted now that I’m not caring for Mum at home 24/7? I still have lists of things that I don’t get done and so many extra tasks for Mum (that may be just temporary). Apart from that, I feel like I am in a no-man’s land. My mornings and evenings are much easier, without doubt, and my day-to-day need to keep a constant watch on her has obviously diminished, although my concern for her welfare has not. The burdens have completely changed, but are no less weighty – the concern for her welfare and the doubt and guilt are almost more debilitating. Hopefully when she has been offered a permanent place I may be able to focus on my own way forward. That she is close by is of great consolation and I want to continue enjoying as many days out with her as possible.

The boys have needed more input as well and I have been much more available to support them, which is great. They are both going through important transitional phases in their lives and are needing guidance and supervision. Conor also needs a lot of extra home attention, now that he doesn’t have his Nana to entertain. Everyone “says” I’m doing the right thing!

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