There comes a time in a lengthy undertaking where the end, maybe, maybe not, is possibly in sight and all your reserves are long ago depleted. In the echoing hollowness of anything that was there you are left mining an empty seam with an intermittent generator and tunnels full of water and snakes. Somebody is going to fall over and conk out soon, who will it be?
It could be my other half. He went pale and fell off his exercise bike at the gym on Tuesday and had to be revived. He is ill and tired too and has a liver which will catch up with him soon. Every time I leave him alone with my mother to make a cup of tea she begins talking about the death of his parents. By chance mine had gone north when my mother-in-law was ill and popped into the the hospital the day before she died, though they hadn’t really ever known her. They had no idea we’d looked after my husband’s parents every other weekend for five years but, having found out a few years ago, I think my mother may be suffering from a guilty conscience or the need to lay claim to some of the care. For whatever reason, the moment she is left alone with her son-in-law she launches into a long and tremulous account of his mother’s death, which she did not witness. If she could play a violin while she recites it, she would. She does this without fail every time I leave the room, so if I make three cups of tea and visit the toilet twice, that will be five recitals per visit that he has to endure.
I have stepped up the frequency of visits now. We were going once a week but it’s now at five day intervals because she seems so frail and confused. I have offered to move in and live again but she doesn’t want me to do so and I am aware that she is putting on a show and entertaining me. On Monday we went out shopping for her groceries while we were there instead of me doing it remotely. I did it for the sake of a different supermarket and different groceries. When you are housebound there’s not much to look forward to except meals. I try hard to include something new and different every week. Last week she hated the Asian Pears with such a passion I’m surprised I didn’t leave with them inserted in my ears. At least. But it made a change from complaining about the carers, who can change from little angels to agents of the devil in the same sentence. We returned from the shopping to find her sitting mutely in a heap because the visit was being so tiring she needed a rest. This from a woman who can wake up talking and only shut up because nature is kind and invented sleep so the ears of everyone else could have a rest.
So we’re visiting more often for her sake though it isn’t for our sake. It still takes a couple of days to get over the visit, especially on a day when she is being very demented or aggressive. I think I may have stopped being upset by her saying the same thing five times in a sentence. I’m just used to it, you know, what I am is, I’m used to it. Did I tell you I was used to it? the thing about me is, I’m used to it, probably no one else would be except me but I’m used to it.
I appear to have a sprained ankle, I don’t know how that happened. It’s only a few weeks to Miniatura but I can’t seem to get a good run at it. I’m eating rubbish, last night I made the family fend for itself because I couldn’t be bothered to cook, though why I am providing and cooking for a thirty two year old I don’t know.
I still have to tackle the big document about re-mortgaging my mother’s house. I just have to sit down and get my head round it but I can’t seem to do that either. Yesterday I went out in the garden and did a bit of tidying up which felt very soothing and almost normal.
Every time I go my mother looks round whichever room we’re sitting in and says ‘There’ll be a lot to do in here when I die,’ with satisfaction. It’s true. Every drawer, full of stuff, every wall covered with things, every piece of furniture laden, every surface covered. Worst of all these are all the antiques, things of a lifetime collecting, which my father firmly believed were a legacy and which my mother views, rather more rationally, as a problem. I found the lists he had written the other day. In his own illegible scrawl on foolscap bookkeeping paper, lists and lists of what everything was and who it was to go to, all endlessly crossed out, repurposed and lots of it sold long ago when he had the shop and occasional stock shortages. When he died I was so worried about all this. Now, finding them again, I begin to wonder if I had one regularly sane parent to my name at all.
So even when the job is done, the job isn’t done and then maybe my husband will reach a crisis and get acquainted with his liver and maybe he won’t. Ahead of me stretches the future endlessly mopping up after other people. I didn’t sit inactive in a chair every day drinking wine and criticising others, I didn’t go down the pub every night and get plastered. Why do I have to deal with the effects on those who did?
I am so tired.
JaneLaverick.com – tired