My brother and his lovely girlfriend said they wanted to do something to help with caring for mum and dad and after having tried weekly visits, which don’t seem to really work for any of us, we’ve settled on them coming every six weeks or so to have a sleepover and look after mum and dad, and the three kids. This means that hub and I get some quality time, and hub in particular gets a break. My brother and his girlfriend don’t know about hub’s condition, but they get what hard work my parents can be.
In many ways, my brother is very similar to me, enthusiastic, loving, positive, silly, fun-loving, and he amplifies all those qualities in me – I love being around him. But, in other ways, I am far more serious and rule-abiding than him, following a fairly traditional route to university, marrying my first serious boyfriend, proper jobs, kids, mortgage; whereas his life has been anything but traditional. He errs on the scatty, hippy side and so I was surprised and really grateful when he offered this ongoing help.
This weekend we went away for the second time this year. This time using the money I received for my carer’s respite break. Yes, I know the money was supposed to be for me; but, I would have felt weird using the money only on me, and it felt like a real treat to get a night away at a posh spa with hub. We laughed loads, talked constantly and drank a bottle of prosecco whilst reclining in an outdoor spa pool…. Proper indulgent stuff that I usually sneer at.
The indulgence doesn’t align well with my values; but, I was grateful every second I was there and I need to remember my own advice… Which is, that I must invest in my marriage, take opportunities to laugh and recharge my batteries whenever I can. I definitely won’t be going to a place like that any time soon again and it was lovely to have such a wonderful time.
Our garden has also just been finished. It is now no longer a boggy, wet, clay mess; but a beautiful lawn with a lovely path and patio. And with that, all the money I received when I was made redundant is gone! I’m proud of the fact that we managed to make the money last and we used it to build a home for my parents to live in, hopefully for the rest of their days. That money could have so easily evaporated with nothing to show for it, so I’m happy to see their little house at the bottom of the garden every morning when I wake up.
So here comes the dramatic part of this week’s instalment…
Like I posted the last few times, it really does feel like every time things calm down something else comes from leftfield to test us.
Whilst we were away, mum and dad came up to our house for dinner with my brother, his girlfriend and the kids. Eventually they all curled up watching TV, and my mum (who is usually in bed asleep by 8.30pm) was fast asleep on the sofa. Dad woke her up at 10pm to say the kids had gone to bed and they ought to be getting back to the annex. But dad, with his dementia surprise, surprise, couldn’t find his slippers, mum got annoyed at having to wait for him and stormed off to the garden as she didn’t want to wait.
She went outside, looked up and was mesmerised by the moon… I kid you not. Up until today, three days later, she still accepts no personal responsibility for what happened, it was the fault of the crescent moon for shining so brightly, nothing to do with not looking where she was going. Anyway, she came out the door, looked up in the sky, missed the step down to the beautiful new Indian Sandstone path and fell flat on her back, cracking her head on the concrete, getting a 2 inch gash in the back of her head and a concussion. She has been traversing shaky, mismatched, uneven, wooden pallets and bog since February, but the first night she walked on the expensive, and supposedly safe new path this happens. Thankfully she is fine apart from the gash, and I am grateful especially when you hear about other 80-year-olds taking a fall where the outcome can sometimes be catastrophic.
This is the part that I am particularly counting my blessings about this week. Not just that mum is ok, but about how my brother reacted. If you had explained the situation which was about to happen and asked me to predict my brother’s response beforehand I would have said he would have called us at the spa and asked us to come home. He didn’t do that.
He called the ambulance, spent the night in A&E with my mum; his girlfriend looked after the kids, and dad who arrived in our house very confused at 4am when he rolled over to see that mum wasn’t in the annex. No one called us, or even texted us. We got up in the morning, slightly bleary eyed after too many drinks, and decided to go back for a swim. We didn’t get home til lunchtime.
And this is what I am counting my blessings for this week. Not that I’m having to cook extra meals for mum and dad, and check in on them every couple hours, and not just that mum was relatively unharmed, but I am counting my blessings that by me stepping away it gave my brother the opportunity to step up and to show me that all along he had that ability to do things I didn’t give him credit for.
If we’d both been there I would have flown into ‘fix it mode’, and tried to control the situation. My brother did amazingly, so did his girlfriend. Everyone was fine, and we still managed the break which meant we were so much better prepared, rested and able to cope when we got back. Another life lesson learned this week. Sometimes I need to step back so that others can step up and I’m not the only one who can fix things. Thanks little bro.