DEATH IN THE FAMILY

Dear Friends,

I just wanted to let you know that I haven’t been able to post anything on my blog these last few weeks and probably won’t for a couple more weeks at least, as very sadly, my Mother, who was very sick, passed away last week. I am devastated as I’m sure you can imagine. I hope to be back when everything has settled down. Thank you for your understanding. Ellie x ¬†ūüė•

STROKE – COMPASSIONATE LEAVE

Image result for Right Brain Stroke Damage

Life has had a nasty habit of throwing us curveballs now and then. That ball has certainly knocked me down many times, but I think the important thing is that it’s not how far I fall but whether I can get up again from there. That’s true for everybody at some time, but I feel like I’ve had to do an awful lot of climbing back up¬†over the years.

I don’t feel sorry for myself though as we all have to cope with this experience we call life. I’ve had a significant knockdown just recently which is limiting the amount of time that I have to write my blog – not that you could ever really call me a prolific writer – I’d say more a sporadic writer.

Right now, things are tough and a real challenge. My mum was sick before I wrote my last post Рshe was in a local hospital with pneumonia. That was bad enough. She is elderly and becoming rather frail now, and illnesses and accidents are becoming a common occurrence now, in her 87th year.

A week later while still on the ward, Mum was found collapsed in the bathroom – she’d had a stroke. The very thing she had always dreaded and said: “It’ll never happen to me”. I thought, until this event, perhaps somewhat naively she was going to be right – that she would live to an even riper old age than she was already.

An ambulance rushed her to the main City Hospital. A friend took me there later that day, and it was a real shock. There was my mum, laying almost helplessly unable to do anything. The whole of one side of her body was lifeless. She couldn’t move her arm or her leg; she couldn’t sit up – not even with support – she lurched sideways into a sad heap and had no balance. Her face had dropped so that her eyelid drooped and what was left of her smile had been taken away.

Two weeks later, she still hasn’t made much progress in her movements. Her speech is slurred, very soft and infrequent as her cognitive function has also been affected so that her brain is working much more slowly to process information. She’s unable to swallow properly so is on a diet of¬†small portions of rather undignified, pureed food which she still manages to pull a face at in an odd way and I just know she’s thinking, “Why am I being given baby food?” I can’t begin to imagine how awful it must be for her to be trapped inside her mind without being able to express herself clearly or barely communicate.

Needless to say, her appetite¬†is almost non-existent, and I can’t say I blame her when food has to be¬†spoonfed¬†into her now crooked mouth. Pureed shepherd’s pie and carrots, having¬†been liquidised within an inch of their life, wouldn’t appeal much to me either.

I am travelling up to the City Hospital every other day (a journey by train in my wheelchair, George of two-and-a-half hours each way). I spend as long as I can with my mum but then return home along with the hoards of workers turning out from their places of work to head homeward. Travelling with an electric wheelchair is not fun when all around me are rushing, pushing and shoving to get home after a long day or a long shift.

As you will have gathered, I might not be able to make an appearance very often at the moment, so please excuse me if I have been unable to read, like or comment on your blog. I have only had the time to sort through the most¬†important emails and phone calls, and it’s likely to be that way for some time. Thank you for your understanding, my friends ūüė¶

168 HOURS AND A FRAIL OLD LADY

elderly woman hands

“168 hours”, she said. “There are 168 hours in a week, and I’m alone for 167 of them … every week”, she sobbed (and with just cause). It was her birthday yesterday. She was 85. She didn’t want her birthday – yet another birthday¬†spent alone – “Yet another birthday, galloping faster and faster towards death”, quoted somewhat morbidly by my mother.

Nobody visited her that day, as any other day, as all of our family are spread over the globe and are unable to be there. I am the one who lives the nearest and I’m over 90 km away. I would more than willingly tackle the train and bus journey to see her but I cannot access her house in my wheelchair and she cannot leave it because she has agoraphobia. She has done for more years than I care to remember. It creates a very obvious physical barrier between us and means I can’t even give her a hug which constantly breaks my heart, and hers too.

She received a few well-meaning cards exclaiming, ‘happy birthday’, ‘have a wonderful day’- and it wasn’t – a wonderful day, that is, nor a happy birthday, for that matter. I’d sent a card but chosen it carefully not to have the joyous exclamations on it but simply ‘Mum – I want to tell you how much you’re loved’. It was a simple card with two silver butterflies which stood up when she opened the card. She liked that, she said.

Her health isn’t good although perhaps better than some 85-year-olds I know. But, psychologically¬†she is not good at all. The Social Services will offer her nothing and a local senior’s charity have offered her one hour of companionship a week. Fine … except they didn’t show up when they promised. One hour – out of 168 but her hopes were dashed and any confidence she had left was crushed out of her as if a builder had trodden on her skull with a size twelve boot.

Each blow takes away another chunk of her will to live and she is slowly emotionally slipping away from me. She is so isolated and has no friends or visitors that even call to see how she is (or even whether she ‘is‘ at all). It is all so painfully frustrating and heartbreaking.

She shouldn’t be living alone but we cannot see any way out as she won’t and shouldn’t have to contemplate the thought of moving into a nursing home or the like with her mind as sharp as a new hat pin. “Nursing homes”, she said, “are awful places where men and women are seated around a room staring at a TV screen which is blaring out rubbish at top volume!” “I ought to know”, she says – she used to inspect them as part of her voluntary work in her early retirement days. “Some are better than others, of course”, I add.

I won’t go into the other, alternative options (including living with me, which we would both like, but I only have one small box room to offer her which wouldn’t even accommodate her necessities). ¬†None of these are either possible or feasible. I phone her at least twice a day to see how she is and for a chat, sometimes for over an hour which is the very least I can do.

All she wants; all she needs (for crying out loud!), is companionship (and a hug), and believe it or not, in the whole of a large, bustling city, no-one is willing to offer that! Our senior citizens are emotionally cared for far better in the undeveloped, third-world countries than they are here in our so-called civilized, Western world! Emigrating is not a possibility!

 

 

 

THE SOUND OF SILENCE

(This post was written on the spur of the moment, completely unpolished).

the sound of silence

I’ve gone and done it again! Just when I thought I couldn’t make things any worse; just when I thought I was getting it right…NOOOOO, I’ve fucked up again!

I’ve told – shhh¬†– I should’ve kept quiet – just like before – just like all the times before – I’ve gone and hurt someone I love; the person who probably means the most to me in all the world – my Mum. I told – I told – I should have kept it to myself. I’m a grown woman, not a young child – I ought to know better – I ought to have known better. It’s too late now. I’ve said it – there – it’s said – Oh! The shame!

I told my Mum about my recent assault – I’d left it two weeks before I told her for fear of upsetting her, but now it seems that I have done more damage than good by leaving it that long. It’s just like before – just like all those other times – I shouldn’t have told her. What is the matter with me? Am I totally stupid, or what? Yes, apparently, it seems that I am.

I felt I had to hide it. I felt I had to hide the shame – like all those times before when I got abused. Now, I’m a grown-up, I should know better. She can’t understand why I didn’t tell her before. I couldn’t – I just couldn’t. It’s been ingrained into my brain, ‘not to tell’. When I told her of my child abuse as an adult many years ago, she didn’t believe me and perhaps didn’t want to believe me. Maybe, it hurt too much to admit it to herself, particularly as it was my father.

She’s so hurt that I kept it from her whilst ‘pretending’ and appearing to be alright and okay on the outside. I wasn’t okay – truly – I was not okay. I was screaming in the silence. I’ve hurt my Mum and I was trying to protect her. How do I ever apologise enough for the pain I’ve caused her? I’m so sorry, Mum; I’m truly sorry. How can I undo the damage I have caused? How can sorry ever be enough?

I should have stayed silent – the sound of silence is infinitely better than the sound of betrayal of trust – my own Mother can no longer trust me to be truthful with her; to be honest. How can I ever put that one right? I could weep tears for the damage I’ve done it now and there’s nothing I can do to turn back the hands of time to do it all differently. I should have kept quiet. I prefer the sound of silence to the sound of pain. Forgive me, my Mother, forgive me, please. I’ve fucked up again.

shame

(Image courtesy of Henry Fuseli)

A TANGLE OF WORDS

learn me slowly

I am at a loss today. This isn’t going to be a clever piece of poetry or a blog as such; more a tangle of words because my head is muddied today. Love, compassion, charity, honesty and practising at least one random act of kindness every day are important to me. Friendship too….I have very few close friends but we know each other very well and that’s what matters. I also like my solitude; time to think, feel (not always desirable), dream, hope and more…

When I love, I love with passion in my soul; not a burning desire for sexual intimacy but more burning desire to understand other’s thoughts and feelings. My own, I trash! I’ve been told that I don’t give myself the respect that I give to others. I feel I am not deserving of that. I anger slowly with others, but rapidly and ferociously with myself.

I am confused; I am angry: I am hurting; I have had ‘the book’ thrown at me in this life that I do not desire today. I have been used and abused, beaten, yelled at, abandoned, trodden down, smashed to pieces but I bear no malice and I fear conflict with a very deep rooted fear.

Yet, I know that am, too, a survivor. I know that much although remembering it is not always simple and it is far too easy to slip into the victim role. I do not want to be there! I do not want to be that! I am a tough cookie, so they say.

But still I question, who am I though? Who am I really? I am a daughter who fears terribly the thought of one day soon, not being a daughter anymore because life gets snuffed out as is the order of nature. It is so unfair at times. I am a sister; I am an aunt; I am a mother (all be it unwanted by my children); I am a grandmother (all be it denied me). I am, however, forever blessed in that I am a daughter of God, my Father. I trust God; I’m just not sure I trust the rest of the world.

Am I making any sense? Am I being rational? I think not? Sometimes (like now) I seriously doubt my sanity…I feel so often that my life and my sanity are (in the words of Paul Simon, “Slip, Slidin’ Away”.

Sometimes I wish I was……..